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U S I N G    A R T    T O    R E U N I T E

June 2018

Jonathan Hale was teaching art at both Jordan Valley School, a school for students with severe and multiple disabilities, and Sprucewood Elementary School in Utah’s Canyons School District when he had an idea—what if he brought students from Jordan Valley into the art classroom at Sprucewood to work in grade level peer pairs? Hale, an art specialist in the Canyons School District, was well qualified to launch such a program given his certification in special education and experience as an art therapist. With two years of his peer partner program now complete, Hale and his research partners at the University of Utah Department of Special Education, John McDonnell & Kristen Paul, and Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, Assistant Dean for Arts Education and Community Engagement, College of Find Arts, have found that the art classroom can lend itself to improved socialization for students both with and without disabilities. Please enjoy the following article!

Studio '18 
The official magazine of the University of Utah College of Fine Arts.
Published on May 29, 2018

Written by Marina Gomberg
Photos Sarah Knight Photography

Jon Hale didn’t know art therapy existed when he was he was earning his BFA in painting and drawing here at the University of Utah and supplementing his art practice with sociology and psychology classes. What he did know was that he was interested in the ways cognitive and cultural ideas shaped the content of his work. As he pursued his MFA at Colorado State in drawing and body work, he often employed metaphor in his art — using insects, for example, to illustrate our psychological processes of labeling, naming, and compartmentalizing. 

It wouldn’t be for some time that he’d realize that the same tool he used to communicate how we view separateness would be the very thing he would later use to explore kinds of desegregation in schools.

Following his MFA, and during his time at Wayne State in Detroit while he was pursuing his Masters of Education with a concentration in Art Therapy (as well as supplementary class work in art education necessary for teaching certification), he really made the connection about how powerfully art could unite and benefit specific populations of students. Read More >>


Last Updated: 3/15/21