International Arts Center’s Junior Warriors program provides elementary students with experiences in arts, other cultures

Participants in the IAC's Junior Warrior program pose in front of the terracotta warriors in the Warriors Unearthed exhibit.

Participants in the IAC's Junior Warrior program pose in front of the terracotta warriors in the Warriors Unearthed exhibit.

More than 130 students from Troy Elementary School took part in a variety of art projects and toured exhibits at Troy University’s International Arts Center last week as a part of the IAC Junior Warriors program.

The program, which began in 2017, provides participants with a hands-on approach to engaging with the arts.

“The program aims to bring our young citizens to our campus and have an immersive experience at the IAC and beyond,” said Carrie Jaxon, Director and Curator of the IAC. “We want our children to experience art first-hand and be inspired in their own creative pursuits.”

Participants screen-print IAC Junior Warrior t-shirts.

The program was supported in part by a generous grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and also by Sodexo.

Over the course of three days, students toured galleries in the IAC, learned about the exhibit of 200 terracotta warriors that are located in the Janice Hawkins Cultural Arts Park and completed an art project involving transferring images of Alabama and Troy, inspired by Jerry Siegel’s photography exhibit, “The Promise of Living/The Tender Land,” currently on display at the IAC. In addition, students screen-printed t-shirts with the IAC Junior Warriors logo.

In addition to activities at the IAC, students also learned about Chinese art, musical instruments and traditions, including completing paper cut art projects and learning to write Mandarin characters.

Troy Elementary art teacher Jennifer Lindsey helps to organize the field trip annually and has said she has students returning year after year to say hello and asking about the field trip.

“It’s become a staple and a favorite for the elementary students,” Jaxon said. “We are so happy that we can provide this program and field trip to TES covering all costs, including substitutes, buses, and lunch.”

Junior Warriors work on an art project outside of the IAC.

The program also is beneficial for Troy University students who have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in working with the children during their visit.

“We also hire TROY Art and Design students, specifically in Art Education, to help with the art workshops, as we hope to give them some professional experience working with large groups of children in a museum setting,” Jaxon said.

In addition to Troy Elementary students, Covenant Christian Academy fifth and sixth graders took part in the program earlier in March.

“We want these students who participate in the Junior Warriors program to have a unique, multicultural experience in order to appreciate the diversity that is part of our community and to enjoy the campus and facilities open to the public just down the street from their school and homes,” Jaxon said.

Junior Warriors pose for photo with Nall’s Violata Pax (Peace Dove) sculpture.