Inside KIPP Compton’s Flourishing Elementary Art Program

Inside KIPP Compton’s Flourishing Elementary Art Program

KIPP Compton Lower School art educator Jasmin Benward (center, back) and her student artists

The Museum of KIPP Art (MOKA) showcase and auction is an annual art exhibit that spotlights KIPP SoCal student artists' passion, imagination, and originality and emphasizes the importance of providing comprehensive arts education programs.

KIPP Compton Lower School officially launched its art program in 2022 and is among the 19 schools participating in this year's event at Spotify LA on Friday, May 31, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

To celebrate their participation, we connected with Jasmin Benward, KIPP Compton’s inspiring elementary art teacher, to learn more about how she encourages students to explore their creativity and self-expression inside and outside the classroom. 

Meet Ms. Benward

Ms. Benward joined KIPP Compton in 2021 as a Resource Support Program (RSP) teacher and later became the school's first art teacher, launching its first comprehensive TK-4th grade art program in 2022.

As the sole art teacher, she has enjoyed having creative control over the curriculum and takes pride in tailoring the program to celebrate her students' diverse backgrounds and experiences. She frequently introduces her students to BIPOC artists, past and present, so they can see themselves reflected in the art world.

“It’s such a healing and therapeutic practice. It lets kids express themselves, especially when they’re struggling in class. This is something that they can make that doesn't have a grade attached to it, and it’s from their heart. I know that a lot of them look forward to it because they don't have that time to just create and be a kid,” she said when asked about her views on the importance of art education.

Ms. Benward also enjoys implementing unique projects and lessons in her art classes that infuse mixed media, movement, literacy, and music. From improv dancing to civic raps to portrait sessions of Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou to Basquiat-inspired vinyl album covers to quilt-making, she always tries to think outside the box to spark joy and creativity in her students. 

“Art provides a voice to people who are normally overlooked and marginalized. Art and storytelling have been at the forefront of any change. Not only are [my students] creating art, but they’re also learning about why some art was made,” she said. “This could be a form of activism for them. This could be a way for them to bring community and people together. This could be a way to heal and support themselves. I like to show them artists who are doing it, so they can see that it's a possibility for them.”

This year, Ms. Benward has chosen five talented KIPPsters to participate in MOKA—Ali, Camila, Eden, Helen, and Jairo—and she is going above and beyond to ensure they thrive in their creative journey. With Ms. Benward's guidance, these students are collaborating while honing their skills. To make things even more interesting, she has also given her students disposable cameras to encourage them to capture their creative process and share their unique perspectives through another art medium. 

“I had so much fun exposing my kids to what art can look like outside of our school. Many of them have never been to art galleries and have only done virtual field trips. It was great for them to meet other artists their age from other KIPP schools,” she said when asked what she enjoyed most about taking her students to their first MOKA last year.

MOKA Sneak Peek

Leading up to this year’s MOKA, we had the opportunity to meet with three of Ms. Benward’s talented MOKA students to get a sneak peek of their art pieces for this year’s big event!

Eden | First Grade
Eden is the youngest KIPP Compton student attending MOKA and is eager to represent her school. Her classmates inspired her to draw a lovely girl with purple hair for her MOKA art piece. She enjoys infusing her artwork with her favorite colors of purple, pink, and blue.

Jairo | Third Grade 
Jairo is thrilled to attend his first MOKA and hopes people are “excited” to see his artwork! He also looks forward to meeting fellow student artists. He has a passion for drawing and dreams of becoming an artist when he grows up.

Helen | Fourth Grade
Inspired by her studies of ancient Greece, Helen has created a gorgeous goddess for her MOKA art piece. She begins her process by doing initial sketches on a whiteboard before transferring her artwork to a canvas. She enjoys sharing her finished masterpieces with her biggest fan — her supportive mom!

We’re excited to share that over 100 KIPPster artists from our elementary and middle schools will showcase their original artwork at this year’s event. Their artworks will reflect this year’s theme, “Kaleidoscope,” highlighting the importance of embracing diverse perspectives. We hope you’ll join us for this unforgettable experience!