Cedarburg studio allows OHS artists to interact with community
A pilot program involving the Northern Ozaukee School District and a Cedarburg art studio is helping tap the artistic talents of four special-education students.
Beth Csaszar, a special-education teacher at Ozaukee High School, said she got the idea for the program after learning about the work being done with special-needs students at the Art Oasis in Cedarburg.
â€śI initially read about the Art Oasis, a non-profit studio started by Mary Marjenka-Pipp who has a daughter with a disability,â€ť Csaszar said.
â€śThis art studio and shop support the idea of raising peopleâ€™s awareness of disabilities, raising hope and money to continue her passion for providing services for all students and adults, with and without disabilities.â€ť
Csaszar said the motto of the studio is, â€śPromoting disability awareness and acceptance.â€ť
Intrigued by the inclusive nature of the studio, she contacted Marjenka-Pipp with the idea of setting up a place where special-education students could work on their art in a community-based environment.
The studio owner embraced the plan, as did the school administration, which even offered funding.
â€śThe studentsâ€™ goal is to foster functional living skills through art and community,â€ť Csaszar said.
Since November, the class has made weekly trips to the studio for 75-minute sessions.
Their most recent project was to upcycle lamps purchased at the Goodwill Store in Grafton, essentially â€śrecreatingâ€ť them into something better.
â€śThey are creating mosaics on the lamps and are also decorating the lamp shades, creating an entirely new and updated lamp,â€ť Csaszar said.
â€śYou cannot believe how proud they are of their progress. One project will be donated to the Northern Ozaukee Scholarship Foundation dinner for its silent auction.â€ť
Beyond the satisfaction of making something of innate beauty, Csaszar said, the students are gaining valuable life lessons from their work at the studio.
â€śSome of the pre-vocational and social skills we focus on every week include appropriate greetings, use of eye contact, appropriate social exchanges, following step-by-step directions, working within a time frame to accomplish progress, meeting deadlines and dealing with project challenges and possible frustration,â€ť she said.
â€śAll of these life skills can be applied to vocational placements as these students transition into adulthood.â€ť
Csaszar said the studio has provided an ideal setting for the students to work in the public eye, rather than in the isolation of the school classroom.
â€śOn occasion, shoppers have come in during the sessions and students will demonstrate some of the skills they have learned,â€ť Csaszar said.
â€śThis has been very exciting, because it is the first opportunity I have had to have students interact with individuals outside the school environment.â€ť
Image Information: STUDENTS FROM OZAUKEE High School have been tapping into their artistic muse during weekly workshop sessions at the Art Oasis in Cedarburg. Studio owner Mary Marjenska-Pipp teaches the special-education students how to use reclaimed items to create new artforms. Lower left, Jacob Dohrwardt showed a recycled lamp he created. At right, Marjenka-Pipp worked with Angela Thurston, gluing pieces to a lamp. Photos by Sam Arendt