Hockaday’s Advanced Studio Art, a Social Impact-Designated Class taught by Dr. Emily Bemenderfer, partnered with North Dallas Shared Ministries to paint murals to brighten up the center.
The nonprofit offers services like dental and medical care, job counseling, and a clothing bank for the Dallas community, and the class was invited to visit the space and hear about its needs.
The result is three colorful, fully realized murals within the main room that integrate the North Dallas Shared Ministries’ mission with native Dallas imagery.
“Comfort within an unfamiliar space makes visitors feel welcome,” said Meera Thamaran (class of 2023). “The project focuses on impacting our community through art, spreading joy, and supporting purposeful community entities. Art generates strong emotion, expresses ideas and abstract concepts, and brings color to an environment in ways that other forms of social impact cannot.”
Students in Hockaday’s Upper School engage with the Institute for Social Impact through many entry points.
They can take one of the 16 Social Impact Designated Courses, engage with Social Impact through Athletics or Fine Arts, or join one of 33 Social Impact clubs started by students.
Advanced Studio Art focuses on developing visual literacy and design concepts that foster connections across the community. The class engages in projects to consider how artwork can be used with a purpose to foster critical consciousness, community engagement, and social impact.
Courses with the Social Impact designation align with the four pillars of community engagement, community service, service-learning, and social entrepreneurship that define the Institute for Social Impact. These courses emphasize real-world experiences and outcomes such as advocacy skills, increased community interactions, and hands-on practice in designing solutions while exploring purpose and building empathy.
Throughout each course, students will complete alternative assessments to evaluate skills such as empathy, creativity, collaboration, and purpose as well as to measure the overall social impact experienced by community partners.
“Hockaday’s Institute for Social Impact really focuses on students finding their purpose, said Executive Director Laura Day. “It is about making sure that our girls build skills, knowledge, and relationships, and then use all of those to create systemic change in something that they care about.”
Using art as a tool for Social Impact can have significant benefits, Hockaday staff says.
“The arts are such an integral part of our society,” said Charlsie Griffiths ’98, Hockaday’s Director of Orchestral Studies. “We are educating students for careers that do not even exist yet. Arts assist with creative thinking, problem-solving, and some of the softer skills that are important in all fields. By introducing and cultivating the arts in our community, we are setting up not only our students but all students, for a brighter future.”