Editorial: Central Academy students use art to cope with emotional struggles

Art teacher Lawrence Brookins Jr., left, speaks to Central Academy senior Julius Hayward about an "It Ain't Heavy, It's My Baggage" project Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, at Central Academy in Cape Girardeau. The artwork, painted on ceiling tiles, is to be displayed on the school's ceiling.
Jacob Wiegand ~ Southeast Missourian

Art can be a form of therapy, a coping mechanism and form of expression. Creating that environment is what Lawrence Brookins, art instructor and retired Cape Girardeau Central High School football coach, is trying to foster with his project at Central Academy called "It Ain't Heavy, It's My Baggage."

"We all have our own types of baggage. ... They've been given a chance to express themselves as best they can up to this point in their lives," Brookins said.

The students are using spray paint and acrylic finger paint to paint the school's ceiling tiles as their canvas. Southeast Missourian reporter Joshua Hartwig reported recently more than 30 interspersed tiles were to be painted for the project. And while there is an emotional connection to the work, Brookins also uses the project to talk about color theories and combinations.

The students' work is impressive. If you haven't seen it, be sure to check out the photos and Hartwig's story that appear with this editorial on semissourian.com.

Thank you to Brookins for continuing to teach and share the blessing that artistic expression can be for students.