“Arts for Me!” Program Displays Gallery at KANEKO


Courtesy of Weside Unified Instagram

“Arts for Me!’ student John Puccioni poses with his artwork at KANEKO.

“Arts For Me!” is a new program offered at Westside, and students involved with the program recently displayed their art in a gallery at KANEKO. Art Instructor Erin Lunsford, the creator of “Arts for Me!”, explained what the program entails.

“It is a class for students in the Alternative Curriculum Program, the ACP program,” Lunsford said. “A lot of these students are in our general education art classes as well, [and] some of them just take ‘Arts for Me!’ as a separate class.”

Lunsford said she founded the program in order to give students the time they needed to complete their best work.

“I started the class because, you know, in a general education class, we have a 30 minute mod, let’s say, and 24 kids in there and a few ACP kids,” Lunsford said. “Well, each kid gets only about a minute of my time at the most, and that wasn’t enough time to really give those kids the attention that they needed and deserved, and it wasn’t enough time for me to get to know them really well and to work with them. I’ve been asking for years to have a class like this.”

The gallery will be offered at KANEKO as well as other display centers in Omaha.

“There is a display up at Kaneko, and some of the display will actually be going to Lauritzen Gardens, and it will be on permanent display for 2 years in their new Children’s Garden,” Lunsford said. ‘It’ll be down there through the better part of June.” 

Lunsford said the gallery is meant to shine a spotlight on the works of students who may not otherwise have a chance for their work to be shown. 

“It’s basically all of their work from the entire year, so we just displayed it, and we really want to give them a first-class show,” Lunsford said. “We want to give these kids, who are sometimes marginalized at school, we want to give them the best that we can. We want to make them the most important kiddos in our art program.

Lunsford said more information about the program is available on the “Arts for Me!” website.

“You can also find out a lot about the program on our website,” Lunsford said. “It’s artsforme.org, so that has a ton of information, like what we’re about, what we do, our mission and philosophy.”

Lunsford said it is important to honor and support all students throughout the art process.

“I think it goes without saying, I mean, everybody is important, and everybody deserves a chance to create,” Lunsford said. “I think a lot of times the ACP population, they may not be given recognition, or I think people underestimate what they can do. I think that they are so capable, and oftentimes they’re in classes and adults want to fix their work, but they make amazing creations, so I just think it’s really important to honor their voice in art and their choices.”

Although “Arts for Me!” is currently offered exclusively at Westside, the program is looking to expand.

“We are going to be expanding the program to other districts and schools,” Lunsford said.

Breckin Parra, a student in “Arts for Me!”, said he enjoys the program.

“I love ‘Arts for Me’,” Parra said.

Parra said his favorite part of the program was seeing his art displayed in the KANEKO gallery.

“I looked at my stuff on the wall,” Parra said.