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Young Artists on the Rise in Hartford

Principal Dr. Tayarisha Stone and art teacher Meg Hayes of Rawson STEAM School inspire young artists to advocate for themselves by working with them to organize their own art auction.

Written by
Sherri Hall
Photographed by
Jasmine Jones

Whenever budget talks begin around education one of the first things the budget police want to cut out is art. However, at Rawson STEAM School, art is not only surviving but thriving.

Rawson STEAM School has a thriving art program headed by Meg Hayes, the school’s art teacher. Meg, has been an art teacher for 27 years, 7 of which have been at Rawson. Under her direction, the students at Rawson have grown to not only “do” art, but have learnt to appreciate art.

These Rawson Students can carry on very robust conversations about the “background” “foreground” and “texture” of various art pieces. They have learned to paint, sketch, and draw things like flowers to portraits of individuals who have inspired them. But what stands out most about these young and bright artists is the fact that their work was used to raise money for Hartford Performs, an organization that brings visiting artists into Hartford Public Schools to integrate art into school curriculum. Professional artists go in and work with students or they meet with artists at venues like the Wadsworth Museum or Bushnell Theater to explore art more deeply.

Rawson STEAM School students, from grades K-8, participated in an art auction where they created their own art, under the leadership and expertise of their art teacher Meg Hayes, and then graciously allowed the school to offer some of their pieces as auction items. Dr. Tayarisha Stone, Principal of Rawson STEAM School, spoke with Aislin Magazine and noted how the art auction was an opportunity for the students to advocate for themselves. They were creating their own art then selling it to raise funds so that they could continue to receive the benefits Hartford Performs offered their school.

When asked why Hartford Performs was so important, Dr. Stone indicated that the program allowed the students to find “their voice”. They were able to show a little bit of who they were based upon their color choices or the people they chose to draw. Students have begun to awaken their artistic beings with drama, writing, or music. Hartford Performs helped Rawson and Hartford Public Schools bring back art in such innovative ways.

Digging in a little deeper, Aislin found out that the art auction was Dr. Stone’s brainchild. A member of the Hartford Performs board, she along with other members were tasked with finding ways to help the organization raise money for programming. As a community leader, teacher at heart and student advocate, Dr. Stone felt this was an ideal opportunity to showcase her students’ accomplishments and growth, while also raising funds to continue programs that would benefit her students.

Dr. Tayarisha Stone, Meg Hayes, and Rie Poirier-Campbell, Executive Director of Hartford Performs, pose for a photo during the silent art auction held at Rawson STEAM School.

These students are true artists. The complexity of the artwork is quite evident if you were to peruse some of the artwork showcased in the school cafeteria. Portraits made by the 8th graders, of people like Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls and Martin Luther King Jr., donned the tables of the cafeteria. Paintings and drawings made by Kindergartners to the 6h grade filled the room, transforming this eating area into a gallery of splendor.

The students at Rawson STEAM School have really put the “A” into STEAM. They are truly artists on the rise.

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