Surrounded by stunning black-and-white portraits plastered all over the exterior brick wall of Morgan County’s Crossroads Alternative Education Program, State Senator Burt Jones recognized a group of students in the “Art for Life” program overseen by the Madison Artists Guild (MAG).

Jones, who introduced Senate Resolution 185 in March to honor the program, traveled to Crossroads on Wednesday, May 19, for a special ceremony, praising the students, teachers, and community partners for using art as a way to develop life-skills and personal growth.

“This is a program unique to Morgan County,” said Jones, standing before beaming student artists, proud instructors and supportive local leaders. “Art for Life: Building Creativity, Community and Connection is a specialized youth development program administered by Madison Artists Guild that merges art experiences and instruction with important emotional and social skills development... Art for Life has built a reputation of excellence in the community and is strongly supported by the citizens, organizations, and businesses of Morgan County, as evidenced by it being an entirely donor-funded program that has resulted in much success.”

According to MAG, “The Art for Life program captured Senator Jones’ attention in December of 2020 through a Morgan County Citizen newspaper article describing COMMUNITY/CONNECTION 2020, the street-photography public art exhibition by the Crossroads students installed on the outside walls of the school that month,” said Patricia DuBose, executive director of MAG. “Recognizing how the combination of a youth development program with life skills and art training contributed to a quality education, Jones contacted Madison Artists Guild for more information about the Art for Life program.”

“It has been a great experience to learn about the extraordinary endeavors the Madison Artist Guild and the Art for Life Exhibition has engaged in for their community,” said Jones. “It is a blessing to witness students come together and create stunning art exhibits while also seeing the tremendous support that is overflowing from the community. It is programs like these that allow students to explore their interest and get hands-on experience in things they are passionate about.”

Jones delivered copies of the Senate Resolution to MAG Director Patricia Dubose, and the Art for Life instructors, Charles Hanes, Angelina Bellebuono, and Elizabeth Collins Hanes. Ten students in the Art for Life program were honored for their work: Rylee, Ada, Jazsmine, Jay, Qway, Treyton, Jordan, Jamir, and Kingsley.

“Every day we get to work with these amazing human beings and watch them grow and flourish,” said Bellebuono about working with Crossroads students. “And every person who is here today is part of our success and we are grateful to you.”

Jones said he wanted to formally recognize the Art for Life program in the State General Assembly to inspire other school systems across the state to establish similar programs.

“We need more of this,” said Jones. “ A proper quality education for the young people of this state is the single most important objective of the General Assembly. It is abundantly fitting and proper that the outstanding accomplishments of this extraordinary program, its creators, and its resulting art exhibition be appropriately recognized.”

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