Art Expression Inc

Mission Statement:

“To facilitate positive socialization through expressive art activities and provide academic enrichment in an inclusive educational environment.”

Who Are We?

Art Expression, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization founded by James and Angela Lowden in 2001 as an expression of their passion for alleviating the social inequalities that exist among children of different abilities and backgrounds. It is a fully inclusive after-school program, offered free of charge to students, that focuses on developing the social skills of children through art in the Pittsburgh area.Art therapy is not performed during the sessions, but some of the components of art therapy are used to develop positive outcomes for students.

Who Do We Serve?

Art Expression, Inc. has served over 8,000 children in urban, suburban and rural school districts and community organizations in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

Program Goals

The goals of Art Expression Inc. are as follows:

  • Increase self-esteem, creative self-expression and independence through art-making and discussion

  • Enhance social and anti-bullying skills by providing an inclusive environment

    • Students learn to respect personal space, share materials and positively communicate with each other

    • Students develop greater coping and resiliency skills to address the impacts of physical, verbal and social bullying

  • Improve problem-solving skills and frustration tolerance

  • Reinforce academic core standards

    • Students will strengthen basic academic concepts within an artistic context

  • Increase leadership skills.


StART Growing

To teach students the importance of nurturing not only the environment but also themselves, thereby reinforcing the importance of sustainable practices in both social and environmental contexts. StART Growing is a program that will creatively integrate science and art in addressing the importance of both self and environmental nurturance.

The StART Growing experience will encompass planting and nurturing individual seeds in crocks decorated by the students. The goals of the program include developing an awareness of nurturing one’s self and the environment, improving social skills and tolerance, supporting positive self-concept, and engaging in creative expression through the visual arts. Concepts on both self and environmental nurturance will be presented to the students by the Art Therapists,intended to nurture  “healthy living” techniques in each of the participants. Children are the artists of the future: If we plant the proper seed within their very rich imaginations, the potential masterpieces are boundless.

Musical pARTners

Musical pARTners is a music-based enrichment program that aims to promote positive self-expression and inspire interest in the world of music, which includes components of music therapy and music appreciation. Students will be invited to participate in creative musical expression through performance, perception and response, while historical and cultural heritage will be explored for academic enrichment. Music will also be combined with various art-making activities, allowing for the creative process to evolve by merging both disciplines. Creating visual art while listening to live music gives students a unique opportunity to integrate the auditory world of music and visual world of art into a tactile, creative world of expression.

Musical pARTners supports personal growth and active student participation. Activities are selected by professional Music facilitators, who have backgrounds in music therapy and provide instruments, guidelines and creative opportunities for expressive musical involvement. Music facilitators may also collaborate with art facilitators to create theme-based workshops featuring components of both music and art appreciation. Participants will be encouraged to engage proactively with peers during sessions, which often naturally increases comfort with peers outside of the program. Musical involvement allows participants’ abilities to be strengthened and carried over into other areas of their lives, which makes Musical pARTners a wonderful, high-quality enrichment experience.

From the HeART

To provide specialty programs to meet the needs of children and families in the shelter setting and for those who are part of military families, From the HeART allows Art Expression to create a program or workshop based on the special needs of families experiencing homelessness or military families.

Homeless Children’s Education Fund (HCEF) Program

Art Expression has partnered with HCEF to create programs which focus on embracing a holistic approach to crisis resolution and treatment by addressing the needs of the total family and providing vital services where the family can find support, guidance and redirection to make them contributing members of the community again. These programs are facilitated in the shelters as well as with other local partners such as the Toonseum.

Operation Military Kids (OMK) Program

Through Congressman Tim Murphy, Art Expression, Inc. has partnered with OMK to provide specialty events and workshops which support the needs of military children and their families in the Pittsburgh area. These are either stand-alone or conducted in conjunction with another OMK event such as Family Camp Weekend, and incorporate themes focused on support, empathy, and resiliency within Art Expression Inc.’s core curriculum.

Project EcoSmART

The EcoSmART project will teach elementary school students to apply creative problem-solving skills and innovative design through a weekly, art-based enrichment program that aims to promote positive self-esteem and inspire interest in the worlds of science and technology.

Most local communities teach young people about the recycling process, allowing artists to teach young people to transform these materials into renewed objects of value and beauty. Young participants in Project EcoSmART generate innovative design techniques and facilitate the creative reuse of non-recyclable materials. EcoSmART provides school students with basic art supplies, reusable refuse items from home, and salvaged materials  to create large, three-dimensional sculptures.  The project culminates with the students producing a narrated PowerPoint presentation to share with classmates, teachers, administrators, and parents. This leads students to internalize the ideas that second chances are possible and gives School Districts an opportunity to support the personal growth of student participants in the EcoSmART program by helping them to positively engage with peers during these art classes, while developing the fundamental creativity and cognitive skills needed to explore the worlds of art, science and technology.

Creative pARTners

Creative pARTners teaches participants to apply creative problem-solving skills and innovative design, through a weekly, art-based enrichment program that aims to promote positive self-esteem and inspire interest in the world of art.Creative pARTners is the first and longest running Art Expresssion program. Participants will be introduced to art concepts that promote problem-solving, sharing and social skills development. Offered in local school districts including: Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon, Greensburg- Salem, South Allegheny and Central Greene, experientials for the program have been developed based on student needs, as well as, school district, art facilitator and faculty supervisor feedback.  The program has shown an increase in participant’s confidence, problem-solving and overall focus. Creative pARTners strives to be an outlet for children who may be over active for an array of reasons. who are encouraged to express themselves during the sessions, often allowing Art Facilitators to assess the underlying problems that may lead to a child’s misbehavior.

Creative pARTners yields an emotional impact on group participants, leading students to internalize the ideas of friendship and confidence and allowing students to feel comfortable with their peers and faculty facilitators outside of the program. This project gives School Districts an opportunity to support the personal growth of student participants in the program by helping them to positively engage with peers during these art classes, while developing the fundamental creativity and cognitive skills needed to explore the world of art.

ARTS in Motion

Art Expression, Inc. and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater have partnered to create an innovative program that combines visual arts, rhythm, movement, and dance. ARTS in Motion combines Art Expression’s programming, which helps children with their social skills through art, with the Ballet’s focus on dance and movement in arts education to create something entirely new. The unique program serves students through a close collaboration between the two organizations, who jointly created a multi-disciplinary experience that neither could have achieved on their own. Students are encouraged to work together to explore dance and visual art around a variety of themes. Music is also incorporated into ARTS in Motion programming, with a special workshop on percussion. Each session of the class will alternate between dance- and movement-focused activities and visual arts activities that share a common theme.

Artventures in History



Centered around arts and world cultural studies, ARTventures in History: Australia allows students to explore Australia’s unique landscape, tribal history and modern culture. Traditional stories are shared, with art-making processes reflecting those of “the Land Down Under” in the Southern Hemisphere. With fun projects that feature kangaroos, penguins and the Great Barrier Reef, ARTventures in History: Australia is the first in a series of globe-trotting “ARTventures” programs.


ARTventures in History: Egypt takes students on an adventurous journey through the history and culture of the land of the pharaohs. Inspired by the funeral rites of ancient Egypt, this stimulating new program allows students to engage in projects based on various aspects of Egyptian mythology, with participants encouraged to relate the projects to themselves and their own lives.

ARTmosphere: Weather

ARTmosphere: Weather aims to provide an engaging STEAM after-school program to students based on a topic they can all relate to: weather. Weather has an impact on both our physical bodies and our mental well-being. We see an overwhelming need across academic, community and home environments to aid students with self-regulation. Each component of the program will include a hands-on activity that combines STEAM concepts. Topics include: temperature, heat index, and humidity; barometric pressure, clouds, wind and wind strength; the science of precipitation (rain, snow, hail); severe storm systems, survival, storm aftermath, and rebuilding; forecasting, Meteorology; atmospheric optics; and the physiological impact of weather. The atmosphere is a chaotic system in which small changes to one part of the system can produce larger effects on the overall system. We hope that ARTmosphere: Weather becomes one small, positive change in a student’s learning which causes a ripple effect. Worldwide, we have experienced weather events which have caused tremendous impacts on health, food supply, economics, travel, and security. Current events make this topic appropriate for today’s schools. The connection between self and environment is life-long. We are inspired to help children assimilate knowledge that is most relevant to them in a fun, interactive way.


Students cross-train with art facilitators and physical fitness experts to blend competitive games, sports psychology concepts, and art-making. Participants create art projects inspired by sports, from goals to obstacles to redesigning trophies. We invite students to widen their social circles as they engage in activities for the athlete and artist within. ARTletic seeks to inspire students to develop positive mind and body habits for life, and develop skills, knowledge and dispositions such as empathy, open-mindedness and perseverance.

The Art facilitator helps students experience effective ways of reflecting and communicating with peers, instructors and others. In both the art and athletics portions of the sessions, playfulness and exploration will be keys to achieving the program’s goals. The program’s designers are Art Expression’s art facilitators and physical education and art teachers, each lending their expertise. The group creates art projects that serve as functional art for fitness activities. For example, students may design their own weights with their motivational goals written on them. By investing in their own ideas and artwork, students feel connected to the outcome. Students are encouraged to test their designs, fitness goals and games within a supportive group of facilitators.

ARTchitecture: Building Bridges

ARTchitecture: Building Bridges is an inclusive program that combines engineering, maths, and art with the concepts of trust, peer connections, and strength by discussing, designing, and building bridges.

Students create a self-portrait to interact with their bridges, and explore ideas related to building bridges, metaphorically connecting with the others in the groups. We will begin with two-dimensional bridge drawings and will produce three-dimensional bridges, counting how many recycled objects are used per bridge, and per class. Each small group will make murals to contextualize the type and location of the bridge. Participants will be able to create a sculpture to represent themselves and place this object within the finished product. The final three-dimensional bridges (which will be small-scale models) will be created from pieces of wood, cardboard, wire, recycled objects, and craft materials. Engineering concepts and simple mathematical equations will be taken into account to create a strong bridge, and then the process will be translated into a discussion of how having a good foundation and making strong connections are important skills to develop in one’s life.

The overall concept of a bridge has multiple meanings and can be related to many areas of one’s life: connections, strength, and trust—all of which are reflected in interpersonal relationships. Participants will be symbolically building trust bridges with the other members of the group. On a practical level, we will explore mathematics and engineering concepts. This intersection of math, engineering, and art will provide the participants with valuable insights into the creation of not only stone and mortar bridges, but also bridges within the interpersonal realm.