Laura Carter is a writer, blogger, social media maven and nonprofit aficionada. She spent six years at the San Antonio Area Foundation and her blog “Beyond Paychecks” ran online bi-weekly at the San Antonio Current from 2010-2013. Carter recently retired as Communications Director at Providence Catholic School. In addition, to serving on spare parts advisory committee, she works with Blessed Sacrament Academy on Mission Road, is a member of the TEDxSanAntonio communications committee and contributes to the community journalism project NOWCastSA.
They arrived early with tote bags, suitcases, wagons and crates. Teachers from every school district and many private schools in the San Antonio area came to Wonderland of the Americas Mall on August 1st for the spare parts 4th annual materials giveaway and Fine Arts Fair. Chatting in line with fellow teachers, they anticipated grabbing up free, and often unique, supplies and materials for use in elementary, middle and high school art classes.
Some teachers come with a shopping list, like brushes, markers, paints and other items not in their school’s budget. Others come with an open mind about the possibilities. “I’m always on the look out for the unusual stuff,” said Eric Cavazos, art teacher at Nimitz Middle School. “Getting materials from spare parts annual giveaway changed the way I approach my lesson plans. The ‘not every day’ materials are a starting point for integrating into new and edgy art projects that the kids really get excited about.”
Each year, the community donates items that otherwise might be thrown out as trash, or just recycled in mass. Magazines, toilet paper rolls, fabric pieces, half spools of thread, tiles, office supplies, old costume jewelry, even trophies and other seemingly odd items make it to the tables. Items are sorted for easier access and on event day, the race is on!
Several of the teachers I spoke with like to use this “trash” in the classrooms to make a point. “Most of these students
have grown up in a ‘disposable’ society,” said Dedra Espinoza, teacher at Southwest Preparatory. “Our art projects often include a lesson on ecological basics–where do these items come from, where they go when they are thrown away and how does that impacts the environment. Then they get creative turning the items into something useful.”
But wait! The annual event isn’t the only way spare parts works with San Antonio educators and the general public to further the concept of creative reuse. Members of the spare parts team hold workshops for teachers throughout the year. There are events open to the public geared to educate and create using specific materials. My favorite this year was the “Take it apart and make art” workshop in collaboration with 10bitworks which approached the topic of e-waste in the most creative way.
Plus, the spare parts MINI ART MUSEUM opened with two new exhibitions: Charted Territories and E-Waste Everlasting. the traveling museum even comes with a mini gift shop, magnifying glasses and can come to your school, event or business. Make a date with the MINI ART MUSEUM today by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Elizabeth Cantú, founder and director follows up the event with this comment: “This year we were, again, able to
deliver materials and supplies to 100 PreK-12 grade teachers across San Antonio who will utilize these donations to bring more opportunities for art and creativity in their classrooms. In all, 10,000 students will be served this school year because of our efforts. Thank you to all the volunteers and donors who made our 4th Fine Arts Fair successful. A very, very special thanks goes to Dezarre Boone and the Boone Family for all their hard work.” “Our goal is to turn spare parts into a full-time organization that offers education programs focused on creative reuse and accepts/delivers materials to the creative community year round. Please email us to help us achieve this mission.”