This spring, MOCA Jacksonville partnered with the North Florida School for Special Education (NFSSE) and delivered Art Aviators programs to hundreds of students through a contract with The Kennedy Center. For over a decade, the museum has served over a thousand families with our Art Aviators program, an educational initiative designed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other exceptionalities. While children with ASD struggle with verbal communication, social relations, and sensory development, creative art-making activities enable them to foster new means of self-expression and communication. MOCA's program operates in two formats: monthly Family Workshops and in partnership with schools to serve large groups of students. Both programs incorporate gallery tours of MOCA's current exhibitions, hands-on art lessons, and sensory activities.
The students of NFSSE participated a pilot of a virtual rendition of the Art Aviators program, which included a tour of the museum, art kits designed specifically to meet children's needs, a dynamic art activity and a sensory sculpture. MOCA hopes to continue this partnership with NFSSE for the next school year in 2021 - 2022 to provide dynamic special education art programs for their students.
We are also excited to announce that in the fall, the museum will again provide monthly in-person Art Aviator Family Workshops. These workshops work to bring children and their parents or caregivers, and siblings together by helping them explore processes and mediums that can be overwhelming or difficult to execute in a home setting. The lessons are designed to be easy to replicate, so if there is something that sticks it can easily be incorporated at home.
“We have heard from many Art Aviators families that they have introduced a material or process at home that they were first exposed to during a program,” says Kiersten Barnes, J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Educator for Family and Children's Programs. “For example, we introduced a lesson with salt dough and there was a boy that loved sculpting with it. During the next session, the boy told us that his family recreated the recipe at home, and he even tricked someone in his family into thinking it was a sugar cookie dough! This family was able to take home a really simple lesson that can be used again and again as a tactile sensory experience.”