Art and Health Team Up to Spread Awareness

In order to spread the awareness of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), art teacher Erin Bastian and health teacher Ronald Brosse came together to form a fundraiser selling holiday ornaments in the Bistro which will run from November 25 to December 16.


The “mini tree” that is held in the bistro

Bastian and Brosse, along with their period two students, are the ones who made these ornaments for the fundraiser. There will be roughly 40 ornaments consisting of inspirational quotes and messages along with common designs that were found in Keith Harings’ (a former pop artist who died of AIDS in 1990) artwork. These ornaments will be hanging from several ‘mini-trees’ in the bistro and will cost $6 each in order to raise awareness of AIDS.


Many people know of AIDS, but they do not know common knowledge associated with it.Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a life-threatening condition which causes AIDS. Though it is rare, HIV is commonly originated through sexual contact and in roughly 2,000 cases (in the U.S), HIV turns into AIDS. By doing this fundraiser, Bastian and Brosse hope to open our communities’ eyes to AIDS awareness. 


With hopes of including two classes with different curriculums for her Masters of Arts degree project, Bastian went to Brosse with the idea of the cross-curricular teaching. Seeing that World AIDS Day (December 1) was coming up soon, both teachers decided it would be beneficial to make their cross-curricular lesson into a way of spreading the awareness of AIDS. 


Since Brosse already had an aspect of health in the fundraiser (AIDS awareness), Bastian needed to provide an element of art. She chose to make her element Keith Haring, due to his connection with the AIDS topic. 


With the means of producing some kind of art within the lesson, Bastian and Brosse came to the conclusion that after hearing the lesson, their students would design Keith Haring inspired Christmas tree ornaments. 


Erin Bastian with the ornament she made

Both Bastian and Brosse knew that only teaching two classes about AIDS would not fully spread awareness of the deadly disease to everyone, so they decided to turn their art project into a fundraiser. With this idea in mind, Bastian and Brosse decided that all money raised from the fundraiser will go to the “Keith Haring Foundation”, a non-profit foundation that provides funding to various AIDS advocacy and health initiatives.


When asked why she wanted to do a cross-curricular approach for her Masters, Bastian said, “I think anytime that we can offer an opportunity for students to connect to content in a different or more authentic manner, we are better serving our students in the learning process. Research shows that by integrating the arts within other content areas, (in this case with Health content), student achievement levels increase regarding retention of information, motivation, and engagement.”


Brosse felt similarly; he said,“I loved having the opportunity of being able to bring art and health together. I am always looking for new ways or just ways to make a bigger impact on getting my students to understand the health issues that we discuss in class. I also feel that art can make that impact since it relates to everyone. Art influences our lives 24/7.”


According to both teachers, they thoroughly enjoyed this project and plan to do another collaborative lesson on mental health mixed with art next semester.