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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Art Expression, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: to provide social and emotional learning through the arts and provide academic enrichment in an inclusive setting.

Results: Since its founding in 2001, Art Expression Inc. has served over 11,000 children in urban, suburban and rural school districts and community organizations in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

Target demographics: Children and youth of all abilities and backgrounds in urban, suburban and rural school districts and community organizations in the Pittsburgh area

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 1,000 students.

Geographic areas served: K-12 schools, homeless shelters and community organizations

Programs: Creative pARTners, Musical pARTners, From the HeART, ARTchitecture: Building Bridges, ARTmosphere: Weather, EcoSmART, StART Growing, ARTS in Motion, ARTletic and ARTventures in History.

Community Stories

79 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working for Art Expression, Inc. since I graduated in 2011 as an Art Facilitator. Angela and her team continue to amaze me year after year of how they keep the organization thriving and relevant to the needs of the community. I have always enjoyed working in the school and shelter setting but I am extremely excited about our most recently pilot program Parenting from the HeART. During the program I met some incredible young adults who were open and eager for the support and resources Art Expression, Inc. had to offer. This summer I also ran a successful summer art program to help students transition into junior high. The students and their parents were grateful to have a week long program to help them reduce anxiety and gain confidence for the transition. The school hopes to continue the summer program every year. I have loved all of my opportunities to work with Art Expression, Inc. and I plan to be with them for many years to come!

Board Member

Rating: 5

I formerly worked with disabled and disadvantaged children and cannot emphasize how effective and powerful pairing art and music with therapeutic programs can be for everyone - especially children struggling with grief, trauma, and mental health issues. Art Expression’s programming has improved the lives of youth and families all over western Pennsylvania and it’s accomplishments should serve as an example for all schools, shelters and children’s programs looking to provide support to at risk youth.

Client Served

Rating: 5

A general story is that the kids were just so proud to be able to make their own puppets...it's one thing to create puppets from paper bags, but Cheryl really went out of the way to get some amazing supplies so their puppets could look quite fantastic. The kids were so proud of them about could not wait to show their moms. :)

Client Served

Rating: 5

Art Expressions has proven to be a very popular program for our youth to engage with. Aside from providing a stellar curriculum, the instructors also were able to host a session to create art for an upcoming show at the DHS building in downtown Pittsburgh. This adaptability, and willingness to engage on many levels is on of the primary reasons that we continue to advocate for youths involvement in Art Expressions programming.

Cheryl101

Board Member

Rating: 5

Art Expression continues to create programs that impact people in so many good ways. This year, we launched a Parent-Child workshop series that has been well-received in local shelter programs. We teach parents some of our favorite activities, and boost their self-confidence in making art and music. We teach parents the developmental stages in the arts, both fine and gross motor skills, and how to create adaptations for special needs. We give them plenty of time to discuss their own children's challenges, and help to problem-solve on the spot. Then, we add their children to the mix and let the parents take the lead! We still do some mentoring and help smooth over any rough patches. The results have been wonderful - we can see them bond more than scold. We can see them have FUN with their children, and praise their work instead of worry that they're "behind" or not doing well enough. Our facilitators work to change those dynamics, promote social-emotional learning, and sprinkle on the fun.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

This year we responded to the severe weather that hit so much of the United States, Puerto Rico, and worldwide by creating ARTmosphere: Severe Weather. This program helped children feel more aware and included in disaster preparedness, as well as the emotional worries surrounding displacement and interruption to daily life. My work specifically for Art Expression in partnership with HCEF was featured in a book titled "Art for Children Experiencing Psychological Trauma". The recent focus for our artwork has been on dreams and well-wishes for everyone touched by disaster and school violence. Programs like Art Expression need continued support in order to reach out to those children and families.

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been part of Art Expression, Inc. for many years on and off. As someone who has been involved with the administrative side of the organization I see a variety of success stories from the students who have participated in the program. From school students, to homeless poplulations and beyond Art Expression impacts the lives of everyone involved.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been involved with this program for many years. The program continues to grow and become something truly unique in school based programming, homeless shelters, and community based interests. It helps many children, adults, families, and schools with its varied programs. At its core it is about making those feeling excluded included through art. It teaches individuals to value differences in others and acceptance of those differences. Art Expression Incorporated continues to be an important partner in the community offering a unique and valuable experience.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working for Art Expression, Inc. since I graduated in 2011 as an Art Facilitator. Angela and her team continue to amaze me year after year of how they keep the organization thriving and relevant to the needs of the community. I have always enjoyed working in the school and shelter setting but I am extremely excited about our most recently pilot program Parenting from the HeART. During the program I met some incredible young adults who were open and eager for the support and resources Art Expression, Inc. had to offer. This summer I also ran a successful summer art program to help students transition into junior high. The students and their parents were grateful to have a week long program to help them reduce anxiety and gain confidence for the transition. The school hopes to continue the summer program every year. I have loved all of my opportunities to work with Art Expression, Inc. and I plan to be with them for many years to come!

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Art Expression Inc. has always been a positive experience for me through the years. The organization takes the mission seriously and works hard to bring art into all children’s lives no matter their background, race, or gender, or sexuality identity. Angela’s dedication never ceases to amaze me and I’m proud to be a part of this organization.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

I have started working with them and love the positive impact they have on the community. Please support as much as you can.

Erieotter

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Art Expression for a very long time. Although I am not a qualified art or music therapist, I have met many of the professionals involved with the day to day workings of Art Expression's programming. In over 40 years in the business world, I have not seen any organization that has shown more passion and dedication to create, monitor and implement such marvelous programs in order to help children be children in a safe and nurturing atmosphere.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Art Expression since its inception. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with many dedicated, selfless individuals devoting their time and energy to helping children find their true personalities and gifts through the social settings provided by the Art Expression programs. Growing up I was blessed to have a loving family and acceptance by my peers. I am saddened when I hear of the issues that young children face today, but proud of this organization's mission to provide a safe, nurturing environment for these children.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you for these lovely thoughts. You clearly "get" what we do and your kind words of encouragement are very much appreciated!

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Beth113

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Last semester, I was excited to run an Art Expression after school program in a local middle school. On the first day of the work shop, I arrived in the art room early to set up the materials we would be using. At that time, a student approached me with some devastating news. She told me that a fellow student had committed suicide 2 weeks ago.
As parents and teachers, we all insulate ourselves against the pain that this kind of news brings. We imagine that no one we know could possibly feel badly enough to end his or her life. Yet, there I was, comforting this girl who had to come to terms with the suicide of a fellow class mate, a class mate not unlike her.
As sad as this was, I think that it really made me value the Art Expression Program even more than usual. I looked at these beautiful students with a different sort of awareness, thinking that it was possible for any one of them to feel suicidal. I wanted to shield them and let them realize their own worth.
Art Expression is the perfect program to accomplish these goals. In Art Expression, students get to express themselves with art media and then talk to each other and three caring adults,
Sadly, this is an experience that many kids don't get anywhere else. In Art Expression, students feel heard and supported. They are no longer alone. As one student put it: "Talking about my problems is a way to tame them."

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

You know that expression "The proof is in the pudding?" In the same way, I feel like the proof of the effectiveness of programming for kids can be gleaned from how the KIDS perceive the programming. And, I can tell you, the kids always perceive Art Expression as a positive and meaningful experience. I have been an Art Facilitator for Art Expression for 5 years and I know this to be true.

This is evident in a myriad of ways. Like when they enthusiastically burst through the door, asking "What are we making today?!" And, at the end of the period, they don't want to leave. Last semester, a girl said to me that she just wanted to stay there overnight and continue making art. And, a girl from a other group said that when she woke up that morning and realized it was the last day of Art Expression, she burst into tears.

You may be wondering what could be so compelling about this program that it elicits these dramatic responses. It's because it's a unique blend of all the right components: exciting art materials and projects, a good ratio between students and facilitators, the opportunity to socialize with peers and the complete freedom to make art anyway they like.

How they express that they value these components varies from one age group to another. A 13 year old boy told me "This is the singular most stress reducing time of my week!" While an 8 year old boy simply said "Art Expression rocks!' In any case, the vote is in - and Art Expression is clearly the winner.

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am an Art Therapist and Art Facilitator with Art Expressions, Inc. I have worked with this nonprofit for the past 4 years--conducting visual art workshops with a variety of Pittsburgh organizations. What makes Art Expression Inc. so special is that it provides opportunities for youth in our community to experience art making in a meaningful and personally significant way. With trained art therapists as art facilitators, the workshop holds a therapeutic space for self-reflection and building self-awareness and self-esteem in the context of a group setting. Individuals come together to create and to focus on art themes that have a ripple effect and connect individuals with others and more deeply, with themselves.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

One of my favorite things about “Art Expressions Inc.” is this sense of acceptance that naturally seems to be found in our groups. It has been a joy to quietly witness kids reach beyond their own usual circle of friends and somehow connect with someone they might never do so during the regular school day. I am not quite sure what allows this sense of community to grow in our art spaces. Perhaps it is giving the children a voice in helping creating the group rules and the culture? Giving them choices and challenges instead of expected outcomes? Listening to them instead of lecturing them? Stripping away other judgments like grades or labeling them by ability or attitude? Most likely a mix of many things but I do think the “art part” allows them to see a deeper portraits of their peers than the “need to be cool and fit in” one they wear all day. Such allows them to see there is a beauty in being exactly who they are. That beauty first surfaces in the extraordinary unique variety of individual creative expressions but later comes to life in how they engage with each other.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working as an Art Facilitator for Art Expressions for the past five years. I am lucky to work primarily with children in various homeless shelters throughout Pittsburgh and the surrounding regions. I spend time with children developing not only their art skills, but, more importantly, their sense of self and sense of others. I have the opportunity to create and engage the children in meaningful art directives specifically designed to generate: positive self-esteem and self-worth, understanding, and empathy for each other. Art Expressions thrives on creating a healthy, non-judgmental atmosphere where all are welcome. Connections created through art yield lasting positive results, and I have had the honor to watch these take shape and grow. I continue to hold Art Expressions close to my heart; as I experience, first hand, the remarkable impact art can make in a person’s life.

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have the honor of working as an Art Facilitator for Art Expressions. I have had the opportunity to work closely with Angela as well as other art therapist for the purpose of creating inclusion for children in schools and shelters. I have primarily worked with children in shelters, and it has been a very rewarding experiences. Art expressions was created and continues to be defined by the connections art is able to create for children of all different backgrounds. I am always excited to bring this to life in the workshops. I have the opportunity to provide creative directives that always have a positive theme. Self-esteem, acceptance, growth, understanding, empathy and support for one-another are themes that I use as a starting point for an art project. Art can be such a catalyst for conversation, and it always amazes me how much artwork created inspires conversation among children and adults. The connections I have seen made in the workshops have been inspiring, and without Art Expressions, might never have come to light. In my opinion, this non-profit is easily a 5 star organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Art Expression, Inc. provided me with experience that has landed me in an outstanding master's program. Working with this nonprofit taught me so much about facilitating workshops that give children skills they can use daily, and the importance of after-school programs!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have the privilege of working as an art facilitator for Art Expression! I absolutely love being able to connect with children and their families through art making. Many of the workshops I’ve done have focused on Mindfulness and incorporated music, coloring, painting, and sensory activities. The children were very responsive to the activities and enjoyed exploring different media and materials. Working with Art Expression has given me an opportunity not only use my skills and creativity to help and connect with others but also the chance to further cultivate the use of art as a therapeutic means of self-expression and communication.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Art Expressions!
I am so thankful to have been a small part of this AMAZING organization that gives young people the venue to express themselves, creatively, in a positive, non-judgemental, and nurturing environment.
And it was so much FUN! Not only for the students, but for the Facilitators, as well....
I had the opportunity to work with students in the Jeannette Area School District, over a period of 4 semesters. The two Art Facilitators that brought so much talent, amazing ideas and dedication to the sessions were Ms. Beth and Ms. Kendle.
Both of these Art Professionals were so engaged, compassionate and interested in each student's development and creative process. I was in awe of these teachers who cultivated so much beautiful creative expression, participation, excitement and patience from these students.
I could see that the kids really looked forward to our weekly sessions. They were so eager to get started on each project! And, just seeing these kids help and encourage each other in their creativity and craftsmanship was truly, a heart-warming experience.
Seeing what they created was truly incredible!
There are so many young people that have so much talent.... and, Art Expressions is a key to unlocking these young people's artistic potential.
And, more than that, the true Expression of themselves.
I am thankful and proud to have been involved with this organization. And the memories I have of all the beautiful moments will be with me forever....and those students, as well.
Carolyn S.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working at Auberle's 412 Youth Zone with young adults who are aging out of foster care and are striving to make their lives better. They look forward to Art Expression workshops. Their facilitators get them to open up, express their fears and positives too. Some have a great passion for art and always walk away with pride and a new technique. What surprises me more is those who say "I'm no good at art" and walk away just as pleased, head held high, feeling uplifted that they accomplished something difficult. It's more than an art class - it's a different way of thinking about how to express yourself.

Barbara Lynn V.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I became aware of Art Expression, Inc. back in March. I have not lived in Western PA very long, having moved from Arkansas just a year prior to finding Art Expression. I was floored by the amount of incredible work Art Expression is doing for school children in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Then when I heard about the programs they do in the homeless shelters for children and parents, I knew I had to work with them in some way. Since discovering Art Expression, I have facilitated classes in both the shelters and in the schools. As an art therapist, I feel I have come home. The work Art Expression does is not being done by anyone else and the kids who participate flourish in the programs provided by this fabulous organization. I have heard children speak about being separated from their brothers and sisters by foster care, and I have seen that same child create art to honor the family members she hasn’t seen in a long time. I have been fortunate enough to have children feel safe enough in our classroom to be honest, open, and then receive support from their peers as a result. The art allows those without a voice to be heard, and it allows for connections to be formed with the people the artwork touches. Thank you Art Expression, Inc for giving a voice to those who often don’t have one. And thank you to every business, foundation, and individual who helps fund these wonderful programs.

Donor

Rating: 5

My son was incredibly motivated by art for the majority of his middle and high school years. Art expression was a passion of his from painting, drawing, writing, video, dance or music, he had a great passion for all. When my son passed away right before entering college, I had a strong desire to start a memorial foundation in his name to not only celebrate his life and carry on his name, but to assist others with finding their true passion in life. I had searched for a couple of years through many different non-profits and academic programs seeking just the right fit for my son's passion. One day I stumbled upon Art Expressions, Inc. and immediately feel in love with their story and mission. Angela and Art Expressions, Inc. were a true blessing to work with and through our collaboration, we were able to offer two programs in a school district that could benefit tremendously. The programs success made my heart full and grateful to have found such a wonderful organization.

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a Child Development/Education Specialist, I have had the privilege to work with Art Expression for several years. They have done amazing work with our children. They have promoted positive self esteem, non-bullying, creativity, care and compassion for others just to name a few. The children are always so excited when they hear that Ms Jess is coming. She is so caring, accepting, and encouraging. The founder of Art Expression is also an amazing person. Art expression serves a diverse population of people. There is no discrimination nor bias. They treat everyone equally and provide individualized services based on each persons needs. I highly recommend Art Expressions for this award. They are truly deserving.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a Music Facilitator for Art Expression and have had the opportunity to see firsthand the amazing impact music and art can have on children and youth. It's wonderful to see the insight the students gain about themselves by reflecting on their art and the imagination and creativity they bring to the table. I support all this organization does to alleviate social inequalities among children and to reach even more youth in the area through the use of art and music

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Art Expression offers more than just art instruction to the youth we serve, but the opportunity to find a voice, to express individuality, and create in a safe space that fosters growth. It is always a pleasure to see the new art being created in their programming, and the interest generated when participants realize that they are indeed artists and capable of creating beautiful works of art.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I participated in Art Expression sessions as a student throughout elementary and middle school. I benefited so much from the program that during high school, I wanted to give back and served as a volunteer during the after-school sessions. Now, I am a college student and Secondary Education English major, and I continue to advocate for the Art Expression organization. I am so grateful for the impact that it had on my life in shaping who I am today. I would recommend the program to any child, family, school, organization, or community. I have so many incredible memories from Art Expression sessions through my childhood. Here are just a few I would like to share:

I remember being paired with two older girls for a group project once. We were given a large sheet of paper to do with what we choose. We decided to use paint to make it look like the interior of a cave and add cave drawings. I recall being anxious at first, working with students who were from the grade above I had never met. As we worked together, I raised my voice little by little to share my ideas. I felt so proud as I dipped my hand in paint and added my hand prints to our work.

I also still remember the colors of my inside-outside box project. The inside was green, and the outside was pink. In my Art Expression journal, I had written that I often wore pink, but that I thought green represented me because it is a color of action. When we shared our boxes at the end of six weeks, all students were celebrated for who they were and what they shared about themselves. At an early age, I was beginning to accept my strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures through this project.

During one of the sessions I participated in, I remember the art therapist bringing a “talking stick” to allow each student to share his or her ideas for projects at the beginning of the session and share his or her work at the end. Some of the elementary school students, myself included, were so anxious to proudly present their work at the end of sessions that we would literally be bouncing on our chairs awaiting our turns. Looking back, though, I realize that the time for everyone to take turns to reflect helped me to develop my own acceptance towards all ideas--especially those different from my own.

I recall other students and me sharing stories from their lives-- from the day at school or time spent at home-- and describing how our artwork represents these stories. Moments like these made me more comfortable reflecting on my life experiences, sharing with others, and accepting myself and others.

Art Expression brings such a diverse group of students. Some students come to sessions because they love art and want to create. Others are hoping to make new friends. Many just want a safe space to be themselves. I have several hilarious memories of kids goofing around and telling jokes in the art room in elementary school. For example, one day, I remember we were clipping images from magazines for our inside/outside boxes. Several kids I had never met and I were cracking up over a magazine advertisement for cat litter. It’s such a little thing, but it meant a lot to me to have so much fun with new faces I had never met before as we created art. Meeting new people with diverse backgrounds and personalities began to open me up to the incredible variety of people in the world.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

During elementary and middle school, I was a student in the Art Expression program. Throughout high school, I volunteered with the program for several years. Art Expression has helped me become who I am today.

In elementary school, Art Expression boosted my self-esteem and confidence. Each session provides a "safe space" for students to feel free to speak openly, express themselves, and be accepted. As a student in the program, I looked forward to every session and can even still remember specific projects I created as far back as first grade--a colorful scarf, massive painting of a cave, and decorated box, to name a few.

In middle school, Art Expression sessions additionally gave me the opportunity to develop my communication skills as my fellow students and I collaborated and bonded over our love of creating art.

Now, as a college freshman Secondary English Education major, as I look back, it is clear that my experiences with Art Expression as a student and volunteer contributed to my current desire to become a teacher. Art Expression gave me the confidence to express myself.

Art Expression is a unique and impactful organization that I know can benefit any school and any child. I look forward to seeing the organization grow and continue to touch more children in the future.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/11/2016

Thank you so much for this amazing testimonial. We are so proud to have had you in our classes through the years and I'm grateful for your kind words about the organization. It's a pleasure to know you!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the privilege of completing my internship and even gaining extra experience after graduation with Art Expression Inc. Working at Art Expression gave me the chance to see how a non-profit is run, and I can confidently say it is no small task. What Art Expression brings to the schools of Pittsburgh, and to the community is astounding. From the president and founder, Angela, to the small administration team, to the art facilitators, and interns, each member of Art Expression brings so much to the table. Without this team working nearly flawlessly together, a lot of Pittsburgh's youth would be missing out on enriching after-school programs. I wish Art Expression was available to youth everywhere!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Art Expression, Inc. does exceptional work engaging children and youth through art to increase their social skills, self awareness and respect for others. The organization is to be commended for its role in reaching out to those communities where children and youth may be dislocated, disenfranchised and/or left behind due to unfortunate circumstances like homelessness. Art Expression, Inc. lets kids know they matter and gives them expression through their artwork to be seen and heard. Thank you, Art Expression!

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you!!!

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Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a senior officer of Military Family Network™ and a board member with Art Expression, Inc. I have twenty years of experience working with the military community increasing their readiness, well being and resiliency to meet the challenges presented by military life.

When I was introduced to Art Expression, I knew right away the significance of its work and the value of its programs for military children.

Military children are not immune to the challenges of military life. Prolonged separations from a parent and/or caregiver, disturbances to routine and living with uncertainty during war can have unintended adverse consequences on children and their development. Some of these consequences are: age regression; separation anxiety; delayed skill development; acting out and other negative behaviors; anger; depression; and isolation. Most alarming, perhaps, is that a military child is at risk of losing one grade level in school due to a parent's and/or caregiver's service in the military.

In light of these findings, the military has sought to support its children by focusing on building resiliency, increasing well being especially in schools and easing periods of potential stress and disruption for families during transitions like deployment and reunification.

Programs offered by Art Expression are ideal in meeting these needs.

Military Family Network™ has witnessed deliberate and thoughtful sessions constructed and delivered by caring Art Therapists and facilitators; art rooms buzzing with kids' frenetic energy and whirls of creativity; respectful peer-to-peer engagement and support that blossoms both friendships and confidence; and, the look of achievement on faces brimming with pride.

Art Expression delivers fun and interactive art activities that bolster kids' sense of self, feelings of worth, connection, value and security - or, precisely what military children need.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I served on the Art Expression Board for many years. The services offered are exceptional and I have personally seen the positive results of the work with students who are in the program.

The program is delivered by certified art therapists and the cognitive and social benefits that accrue to the students in this program are exceptional.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

I appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am proud to be a Board Member of Art Expression, Inc. It is truly a wonderful organization that works hard to provide children with excellent opportunities to socialize with their peers using the arts as a catalyst. The therapist are top notch in working the children. Everyone works hard to ensure that children receive excellent services.

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Many thanks for your review.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

I became familiar with Art Expression at least four years ago and worked with Angela to learn about after-school programs and offer them in the district where I served as superintendent. Art Expression provides opportunities for children of all ages and abilities through an interdisciplinary, engaging approach that is customized for each learner. One program was piloted initially at the upper elementary level successfully. And because of the partnership with students, staff and parents that developed quickly, there was a strong desire from many to grow the program, which eventually became an option throughout the K-12 system. Art Expression provides high-quality programming that demonstrates extraordinary planning and extraordinary results.

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you so much for this lovely review. Your words are very encouraging and gratifying. We are honored to have served (and still serve!) the students in your former school district.

Client Served

Rating: 5

For a second year, our out-of-school program chose Art Expression, Inc. for arts activities for the Summer Enrichment Series. For six consecutive Thursdays, our students, ages 7-17, enjoyed journaling, exploring their emotions and expressing themselves in a unique project. It was great fun to see the end results of the creative processes. As an administrator, I have to add that Angela and all of her instructors are professionals and a pleasure to work with.

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you for your kind words! We are honored to work with the youth in your program and hope to continue our relationship again next year and beyond. You and your staff are also a pleasure to work with!

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Client Served

Rating: 5

One of our volunteers was so impressed with the work of Art Expression, Inc. at another nonprofit she supported, that she confidently provided the funding for Art Expression in our Summer Enrichment Series for our out-of-school program. The kids loved each week's art adventure. In particular, I was thrilled that our instructor, Miss Cheryl, tweaked the projects to coincide with our pirate play, creating backdrops, props and costumes. More importantly, she recognized the needs of each child and handled those with special needs expertly. Art Expression made our summer perfect.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Art Expression is truly an incredible organization that has such a positive influence on the children they work with. I have been able to be a part of their after-school program and the best part is witnessing the creativity and watching the students get excited about their art. I have seen students who, at first, seem uninterested then get involved with the art and all of a sudden, they open up with so much to say! It is really wonderful to experience that and is just one of the reasons Art Expression Inc. deserves a top rating in every way.

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you so much for this review and for your kind words. We really appreciate all you have been contributing to our organization! It's been a pleasure getting to know you!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Art Expression provides high quality and engaging programming. Happy to have worked with this organization for several years.

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you so much for the review!

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Board Member

Rating: 5

Year after year, we deliver a program that makes a lasting impression with students. It's not just about art-making. It's not about getting a grade, or the academic learning that happens. Students share what's important to them through their art, with the facilitators, and with each other. They like learning something new and interesting about a subject, whether it's local bridges, being eco-smart, or pairing movement with art. They enjoy the collaboration and focus on frustration tolerance - knowing that mistakes are part of the learning process, and a very welcomed part of art-making. Many students tell us about friendships that last long after the program ends. In addition to our school programs, we reach homeless youth and families, sponsoring art shows that give directly to the art-makers. We reinforce to them that they have a voice, that they are valued no matter what the situation is. Art Expression began mural-painting projects to show our community support. I'm an art facilitator as well as a Board Member because I believe so much in this program and how it is helping people come alive with confidence and caring.

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you so much for your thoughtful review. You have played, and continue to play, such a crucial role in all of our growth and successes as an organization, and in the continual development and refinement of our services for the students. I hope you know how much you are valued.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been an Art Therapist for years, and have worked in hospital, residential, corporate and clinical settings. Art Expression Inc. is one of the most exciting programs I have been a part of. Art Expression serves as an after school program, which reaches children of many ages. It's an opportunity for me to teach stress-reducing art techniques I did not learn until I studied art therapy in college! The Art Therapists design the art projects and are able to tailor to each classroom we serve. This means that the teachers and children can have input in what type of projects they want to work on, what type of art supplies they enjoy using. The co-facilitators are educators in the school system who already know the kids. This collaboration makes for powerful, open discussion. The art focuses on building self-esteem, frustration tolerance, social skills - things every child needs to succeed academically and throughout their lifetime.

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We had the wonderful opportunity to have Art Expression, Inc. facilitate and inspire our Middle School students with a piece that will become part of a larger project in the years to come. We are so grateful for their influence on our students and teachers. It was and still is a treasured experience. We look forward to continued cooperation with Art Expression, Inc.

Comments ( 1 )

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AMLowden 11/02/2016

Thank you so much for the positive words! We are grateful to have worked with your amazing students and we hope to continue to do so. They're great kids and you're a great school district. Your kind words are very much appreciated!

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Our school district shared a relationship with Art Expression, Inc. over multiple years. What a clever design to a badly needed service. Therapeutic art. It levels the playing field for students who are struggling with emotional needs. In a very non threatening environment students are given coping tools for problem solving. Our students really enjoyed this program. The staff from Art Expression is professional and flexible to meet the needs of the population they serve. They get a thumbs up from this administrator.

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AMLowden 10/18/2016

We are humbled by these wonderful comments. You are very kind. Thank you so much!

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Client Served

Rating: 5

I am an elementary principal whose students have experienced the many wonderful offerings of this program. Our community reflects a high percentage of need. Art Expression has undoubtedly given our students opportunities to experience their artistic creativity, while dealing with issues of a more sensitive and personal nature. From staff, to parents and students....this program has had a huge success for our students and has been very well received. The approach is unique. The skills acquired are life long lessons, which our students will carry with them. One of my most memorable activities for the students were the creation of "worry beads". These were beautiful beads made by the children from clay that were attached to a piece of string. The students learned to carry them in their pockets and when they felt overwhelmed with anxiety or fear, they simply had to place their hand in their pocket and begin rolling their way through their strand/problem. What was so wonderful was that by the time the child reaches the end, their worries were gone. These "worry beads" were very affective. I can remember my interactions with two little boys in particular, where their beads got them through the day. Thanks Art Expression for opening new and creative doorways for our students to handle their emotions. Your services I'm sure have been irreplaceable for many of our students. This wouldn't have happened without you!!!!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

The children enjoy making the art. Not only was they making art they was also learning at the same time. which made it fun and educational for the children. The instructor work very good with the children. I recommend this program for all children.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was truly wonderful working with Art Expression in our district's after school program. Inspiring middle school students, particularly boys, to engage in art and open creative space had been an ongoing struggle for several years, but our Art Expression instructors were very innovative in their approach to working with our students. Instead of entering the program with a firm or canned curriculum, the instructors captured the ideas, interests, and needs of our students as a means to determine which materials and projects to engage. For example, we had a lot of boys who did not want to paint, but really enjoyed working with their hands designing clay models and miniature worlds. They then combined all of their creations to make stop animation projects. In another case, many of our students, both boys and girls were dealing with the death of a fellow student due to neighborhood violence. The instructors were able to help our students creatively and therapeutically express themselves through art in a way that was respectful, tactful, and productive.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Art Expressions has been coming to our facility for a couple years now and we could not be happier! Our agency works with mothers and children experiencing domestic violence and starting anew free of abuse. Our families love the projects Art Expressions brings in and the opportunity it gives for mother/child bonding. They look forward to Art Expression groups and the therapeutic escape it provides. We have had nothing but positive experiences with this agency and highly recommend their services. All of the people are wonderful to work with and strive to make the experiences engaging and memorable for our families. Art Expressions would be a positive program for any school or agency.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Art Expressions is a remarkable approach to teaching real-world concepts with art as the vehicle. The program serves children and young people by creating an atmosphere that promotes healthy learning and social relationships. Art Expressions is a wonderful opportunity for students to not only create something, but learn how to reflect and communicate their unique ideas and thought patterns. The Art Expressions faculty are well-organized, prepared, and devoted to fostering high-thinking learners and future contributors of society. I would strongly recommend the program and hope to have Art Expressions return to my district for years to come!

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

During elementary and middle school, I was a student in the Art Expression program. Now, as a senior in high school, I have volunteered with the program for several years. Art Expression has helped me become who I am today.

In elementary school, Art Expression boosted my self-esteem and confidence. Each session provides a "safe space" for students to feel free to speak openly, express themselves, and be accepted. As a student in the program, I looked forward to every session and can even still remember specific projects I created as far back as first grade--a colorful scarf, massive painting of a cave, and decorated box, to name a few.

In middle school, Art Expression sessions additionally gave me the opportunity to develop my communication skills as my fellow students and I collaborated and bonded over our love of creating art.

Art Expression is a unique and impactful organization that I know can benefit any school and any child. I look forward to seeing the organization continue to grow and touch more children in the future.

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Former staff

Rating: 5

Art Expression has demonstrated kindness, creativity, and engagement with the at risk youth they serve during the Service Access for Youth program. Each session is tailored to the youth as artists, empowering them to explore their artistic process and express themselves in a tangible way. Art Expression provides a safe space where the youth not only have access to materials and new techniques, but they facilitate meaningful discussions. I can not say how grateful I am to have Art Expression (specifically Jen and Julie) participate in the SAY collaboration.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

Glenn Smartschan

I have been involved with Art Expression since its inception. First, as Superintendent of Schools in Mt. Lebanon, when Art Expression opened its first after school class in Mt. Lebanon schools, and now as a board member.

Art Expression has helped hundreds of students find a voice and an identity through the arts. As a result of the program I have witnessed students dramatically improve their interpersonal relationships with their peers and use the Art Expression experience to enhance academic performance.

I am proud to be a member of the Board and to be a part of a program which has changed the lives of many students.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

In my extensive involvement in public education I often struggled with our inability to make profound connections with All of our students. Art Expression, by its design and implementation, creates unique opportunities for young people to grow socially, emotionally and academically through exposure and participation in the ARTS.

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General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter was only a couple of years into elementary school when she began taking after-school classes through the Art Expression program. Her self-confidence and creativity grew as she continued through the program over the years. I would encourage any parent to give their child the gift of Art Expression.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began the Art Expression program in the Mt. Lebanon School District when I was just in first grade. From the start, I looked forward to each session, wondering what sort of project we would be working on. Even though I did not know many of the other students in the program going in, I was glad to be with each one of them by the end of six weeks. Everyone was very positive and friendly--even the fifth-graders complimented my clay dog! I loved the program so much that I continued throughout elementary school and middle school!
I found pleasure in the freedom that came with the middle-school program format. I could harness all of my energy into multiple projects--working on a plaster mask, watercolor painting, and a card for a friend all in the same session! I was never the “Picasso” or “Rembrandt” of the group during my sessions, but I still took pride in the work I created. All students--artistic or not--were fueled by the positivity and encouragement in the room.
Throughout elementary and middle school, the program boosted my self-esteem and confidence. By the time eighth-grade was wrapping up, I believed I had grown into a more certain leader. Inside and outside the art room, I felt as though I did not need others’ approval and was more comfortable with myself.
Now, I help out as a volunteer for the program. My experience with Art Expression has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. I am very grateful to this exceptional organization and would encourage parents and schools to get their kids involved and support this program in any way possible.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I am a facilitator with the Art Expression program at 2 different elementary schools in Mt. Lebanon.
The students are so accepting of each other and appreciative of the art work that this fully inclusive program is a joy to assist with.

Board Member

Rating: 5

It is rare in one’s life to find something that one can be an advocate for and I consider myself fortunate to have found Art Expression Incorporated. This organization is a unique program that utilizes my personal passions of art therapy, helping children, and volunteering for a wonderful cause. Being a board member since its nonprofit inception has been one of the best experiences of my life. I consider myself lucky to be a part of a team of like minded individuals, whose ultimate goal is to help others. The positive results of the program are seen in participant’s behaviors, attitudes, and personal stories. I have seen the program grow and change over the last few years to help not only those in schools but also within the military, homeless shelters, and within various community based programs. Even with its expansions it continues to hold its core principals and ideals closely. I look forward to seeing the program grows, expands, and changes in the coming years.

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Board Member

Rating: 5

It is rare in ones life to find something that one can be truly passionate about and I consider myself lucky to have been fortunate enough to have found Art Expression Incorporated. This organization is a one of a kind program that utilizes my passion of art therapy within school systems. What makes this program unique is that it is an inclusive (having both regular and special education students) social skill building program. It is run by a master level art therapist and school facilitators within the school building; the place where most socialization occurs. Students use both directive and open studio approaches to expressive themselves in distinctive ways. The programs goals include increase in self esteem, increase in positive socialization techniques, use of problem solving steps, and better tolerance of anger frustration. The positive results of the program are seen in students behaviors, attitudes, and personal stories.

Kathy185

Board Member

Rating: 5

As Art Expression begins its fifth year in the Keystone Oaks School District, the enthusiasm of the students participating in this after-school program continues to be strong. Opportunities to engage in creative art activities provided in an inclusive environment enhances the social and academic growth of our students! The program not only encourages creative development, and supports academic/creative arts standards, but also provides opportunities for students to be supportive of one another and share their own perspective, while learning to understand the perspectives of their peers. As both a District Administrator and an Art Expression Board member, I value the program on both levels for its contributions to Keystone Oaks School District.

Melissa Carey

Board Member

Rating: 5

I knew when I was invited to join the Art Expression Board of Directors that I already connected with the mission and guiding principles of the organization. Overall, Art Expression, Inc. is motivated to provide programs that ‘facilitate positive socialization with children and adolescents through expressive art activities in an inclusive educational environment.”

It wasn’t until I became involved with the board that I realized this was so much more. To hear the positive statements of children finding their creativity and passion, growing in confidence both artistically and personally, and navigating the realm of positive socialization and peer to peer interaction because of the impact Art Expression is making in their lives renews a commitment to the work that Art Expression does in the schools and the community programs we service.

As a Music Therapist, writer, and social media manager, I have worked with many organizations and groups that do great work in the Pittsburgh area. Bringing those tools to the board and learning more in-depth about the work of Art Expression have been an exciting endeavor and I am proud of my association with the members of the board and the staff of Art Expression.

I encourage all artists, creative types, parents and school administrators, and those interested in bringing positive social tools through art, youth-focused groups who support inclusive programming, and community-based businesses who support youth and educational programs to learn more about the work our Masters level Art Therapists facilitate with these students and children through the many programs Art Expression offers. You won’t be disappointed.

Melissa Carey

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Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having followed the progression of Art Expression over the last 3 years from an outsider and nonprofit blogger perspective, I can’t say enough about the work that Art Expression does. Coming from my background in Music Therapy, I value the impact of their work using art to develop positive social interaction, self-esteem, and creativity in our youth in a fully inclusive environment. When you speak with those involved with the organization, you can feel the passion, intensity, intelligence, and devotion they have for providing the services they offer. The organization has established a range of programs, integrating artistic mediums with science and technology, math, environmental issues, and emotional well-being. What is also impressive, is that Art Expression works well with others – aligning their programming with educational core standards accessing teacher input; connecting with other organizations to combine projects, such as with the Toonseum, Operation Military Kids, and the Homeless Children’s Education Fund; and bringing together children of all abilities and backgrounds to experience the power of art in their lives. I fully endorse and support the ways Art Expression implements their mission and passion for bringing expressive art activities to children.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

Art Expression provided a valuable after-school experience for Colfax Upper Elementary School students in the Allegheny Valley School District. Students, staff and families appreciated the design of the program, especially the focus on creativity and individualized learning. The culminating activity was a showcase event that drew great response and increased interest and support for Art Expression. Allegheny Valley hopes to continue its partnership with Art Expression. Cheryl Griffith, Superintendent of Schools

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Board Member

Rating: 5

As both a Board Member and as a Professional working in the field of education, I give my full endoresment to Art Expression. I have observed the program in action in the Keystone Oaks School District. Its impact on our students is impressive and the respect for others it engenders is so valuable.
Kathy Foster

Review from The Pittsburgh Foundation

Board Member

Rating: 5

it is such a pleasure to service on a board that cares so very much about children. Through Art Expression the children not only have fun creating their projects but also can express feelings about themselves. Sometimes in the normal environment of a regular classroom, children either can't or are afraid to express their feelings, but through the wonderful experience of Art Expression children feel comfortable being themselves.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Art Expression is a dynamic organization that works very hard to help children express themselves through their art work. I have seen the many positive impacts this program has created for children. The development and growth of self esteem is a goal of Art Expression and hopes to give kids another tool in their tool belt. This program is the only one of its kind making it unique, creative and exciting for kids.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am an active nonprofit volunteer in the Greater Pittsburgh area. I have had first hand experience with the entire Art Expression community. They are a group of passionate, creative individuals committed to making a positive change in the lives of the students they serve.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a Board Member and Volunteer Consultant with Art Expression, Inc. I have seen the program up close and personal. The Art Expression program changes lives. Members participate in afterschool art directives aimed to stimulate education, social skills and personal growth. Everyone's art is seen as personal expression, and the group, the facilitators, and the mastered degreed art therapist all play a part in the fun. The most important part is that participants feel a connection and often times find friendships that develop, and teachers become true mentors. The program is inclusive, non-judgmental, fun, and educational.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am an art therapist and have had the honor of facilitating Art Expressions programs in many Pittsburgh area schools over the past 8+ years. What I love about the Art Expressions programs are that they are fun experiences for children that allows them to explore feelings, emotions, troubles and most of all, the developing person they are becoming. I've experienced children in Art Expression programs share for the first time that they are victims of violence, sexual abuse or are a member of a family in crisis. I've experienced bullies and victims in the same Art Expressions group find middle ground. I've also experienced kids who appreciate the opportunity to address issues large and small; good or bad in an encouraging environment. It's magical, and we know it works. Feedback from families and school personal tell us we're on to something.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Art Expression provides wonderful programming for children! I have observed first hand the wonderful work their educators have done in the homeless shelter where I work. Their programming brought creativity and laughter into our space and provided kids with the opportunity to open up and make something truly unique. I think the kids truly enjoyed the process as much as the final products they created.