A new documentary, directed by former journalist Pamela Sherrod Anderson, highlights the unusual case of Arthur Dixon Elementary School on the South Side of Chicago. “Usually, when you hear stories about the South Side of Chicago, they are not the kinds of stories that deal with beautiful artwork and children who are happily learning,” said Anderson in a recent interview with National Public Radio.

The museum-like Dixon School contains more than 200 works of art, from paintings, textiles, and mosaics lining the otherwise dull brick hallways, to bright metal sculptures spread across the lawn outside. Professional artists provide the artwork, in turn creating an environment that helps students overcome many social and environmental barriers to their success.

Alongside the curated work of professional artists, students are encouraged to place their own artistic contributions. Student art is also sold each year at an annual auction.

Though metal detectors and hired security screen the entrances of many neighboring schools, Dixon is free from these relatively oppressive adornments. And not one piece of art has gone missing after ten years of the program. “They really own the art as an art collection belonging to them,” said Anderson. “They take a great deal of pride in it.”

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