By Noell Wolfgram Evans
Tobi Furman, by her own account, grew up in a Norman Rockwell painting.
“I grew up in the suburbs with a loving and caring family with resources for the things we needed,” she nostalgically remembered.
There was one blemish though, she struggled in school which, to compensate, led her to become a visual learner. She was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia and, while it was good to know what she had been up against, she still had doubts in her abilities. She never really discovered confidence and comfort in herself until she attended Syracuse University where she studied the arts.
Now, years later she is hoping to help others find in the arts that same sense of self that she did. To do this, Furman has developed the Artmobile, which is, for all intents, an art institute on wheels.
“I wanted to find a way to give back to the community,” Furman said “and I realized I could do that by creating opportunities for kids to get access to high quality art education.”
Furman’s goal is to take a reconditioned bus and make art accessible to kids. The program is geared toward children between the ages of 7 and 11, but as it grows so will the opportunities for others to participate.
The Artmobile is in its pilot phase in the Hilltop and Franklinton. Furman has been meeting with community leaders in the area as well as school principals to ensure that all community programs work together and that the Artmobile programs tie into the larger community needs.
The curriculum for the Artmobile has been developed by an experienced art educator and will be administered by Furman along with a team of volunteer artists including a Columbus Museum of Art educator, an artist working toward her degree, and a working artist. These three will bring a diverse background of experience and education to the aspiring artists.
Furman stressed that this is not art history.
“We really want to use this as an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the neighborhoods,” Furman said. “There is art all around us, in the trees, and the plants, and the buildings so we want to draw from that and even use it to create work that will become part of the neighborhood.”
There is more to what students will learn than just how to hold a pencil as she explained.
“The curriculum will also supply students with the foundational skills that they’ll need to go out into the world.”
The Artmobile is currently an immobile art education program as Furman is still searching for a shuttle bus that can be retrofitted for the needs of the program. The lack of the “mobile” part though has not slowed the program.
Furman has a stationary version of the Artmobile that will be appearing at community events throughout the Westside this summer where she’ll be helping people follow the promise of the Artmobile to Explore. Make. and Share.
For schedules visit www.cbusartmobile.com.