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2018 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

74 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!

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.

Cheryl101

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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Board Member

Rating: 5

Time and again, I see the benefits of this program in schools, shelters, and in the community. I have been an Art Facilitator for years. I believe in the mission and goals and loved the work so much that I became a Board member and V.P. of Art Expression, Inc. We are a small but mighty nonprofit! To be recognized nationally yet again is amazing. I hope to continue to help expand the program to others in need. This year, we ran ARTventures in History: Australia, where children discovered the littlest penguins in the world and their part in ecosystems. We added Musical pARTners with music therapists on board as facilitators. We created ARTmosphere: Severe Weather in response to helping children and families prepare for disasters, and to respond to others around the country impacted by hurricanes. Our work goes beyond the expressive arts - it's about empowering people. Life is an adventure, and we help children express their journeys, even through hard times.

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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!