New documentary features local artists working with ESL students at DeJean Middle School

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A new documentary set for release this summer follows local artists as they work with DeJean Middle School students who are learning English as a second language.

“Merging Cultures Through Art” will premiere Aug. 6 in the Madeline Whittlesey Room at the Richmond Main Library, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The students in the film are unable to take elective courses because they need to have a second hour of English instead of art, music, sports or other electives. But with a grant from the Richmond Art and Culture Commission, an art program was launched at the school that focused on English language skills, said Lana Houser, founder and president of HEC Inc., which produced the documentary.

“In the video you will meet the artists, watch the students create their own projects, then tour the city looking at public art and seeing their own work featured at City Hall, the Greenway and at other local sites,” Houser said. “Guests from [Richmond’s] Sister City, Shimada, Japan, joined us on the tour, created their own art projects and introduced local Spanish speaking students to the Japanese arts of calligraphy and origami.”