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‘You don’t have to go into a gallery’: See this veteran arts educator’s most popular lesson

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In 1998, Sean Parrish’s sixth year at Brevard High School, he took the Art Guild on a field trip to Savannah, Georgia. The Art Guild is as old as Parrish’s career at Brevard and is an afterschool program open to any students interested in the arts.

During the field trip, his students stumbled upon the Savannah School of Art and Design’s annual Sidewalk Art Festival. Parrish asked if his students could participate, and they were granted a piece of sidewalk.

The Transylvania educator didn’t leave the lesson in Georgia. He brought it home, and hundreds of students have been able to benefit from the Art Guild’s experience since then.

Students sketch out concepts prior to heading outside. Once outside, they scale their designs to the size of their square and have two days to complete them. Supplies include sidewalk chalk, water, and a paint brush for blending. It is a true outdoor art gallery, accessible to all.

What is one thing Parrish would want others to know about the lesson?

“The sidewalk can be treated just as seriously as you would [treat] canvas or piece of paper. And I think students take it to that level. And that it’s also like sand sculptures and ice sculptures. It’s only meant to be enjoyed for a short amount of time…Mother Nature will take it away.”

Sean Parrish, Brevard High School visual arts educator

Caroline Parker

Caroline Parker is the director of rural storytelling and strategy for EducationNC. She covers the stories of rural North Carolina, the arts, STEM education and nutrition.