Remember, back in elementary school, when you could sit down with your paintbrushes and markers and be as artistic as you liked, judgement free? If you attended elementary school in the last 10 years, you might not. Since 2008, 80% of school districts in the United States have reportedly made cuts to art programs, accounting for a significant decline in creativity scores among children.
That’s why premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR created their Series 4: Arts in Education campaign, a line of art-infused water bottles designed to raise awareness and foster access to art in schools. Recently, the campaign partnered with actress, artist and Queens native Lucy Liu, who stopped by a New York City public school to get creative with a sixth-grade class who are only taught art once a week.
“The fact that some kids don’t have an opportunity to participate in art is a shame,” Liu says. “Kids should all have the opportunity to explore and express. Engaging your imagination is only going to make you happier and more curious and curiosity is going to keep you passionate about what you do.”
For Liu, who attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, the experience reiterated just how critical an arts curriculum is to creating well-rounded people. “They were socializing, communicating and giggling! By cutting art from the curriculum, you’re fracturing a societal foundation. Then you wonder why there are so many socially despondent people,” she says.
As a painter, sculptor and mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old, Liu believes kids are instinctually creative. “I sharpened a pencil and the shavings were in the container and my son says, ‘Look at the leaves! Those are tiny leaves!’ His imagination is so wondrous. To me, that’s so special,” she says.
It’s those creative impulses Liu hopes to preserve by partnering with LIFEWTR’s Series 4 campaign. In addition to spreading awareness through water bottles customized by three young artists who have benefited from arts education, the campaign recently announced plans to put art back in hands of one million students nationwide. The mission, signified by the hashtag “#BringArtBackToSchools,” is outlined in a film created by LIFEWTR illustrating the ways that art is just as integral to education as science and math. Watch the film below and get inspired.