Participating school districts:

Keystone Oaks School District
1000 Kelton Ave; Pittsburgh, PA 15228
+ 412.571.60000

South Allegheny School District
2743 Washington Blvd; Pittsburgh, PA 15133
+ 412.675.3070

Mt. Lebanon School District
7 Horsman Drive; Pittsburgh, PA 15228
+ 412-344-2000

Who Are We?

Art Expression, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization that was 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. It is a fully inclusive, after-school program that focuses on developing the social skills of children through art in the Pittsburgh area.

Mission Statement:

"To facilitate positive socialization with children and adolescents through expressive art activities in an inclusive educational environment."

Who Do We Serve?

Since founding Art Expression, Inc. the organization has served over 4,000 children in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties. Some of our partners include:

  • Allegheny Valley School District
  • Central Greene School District
  • Charleroi School District
  • Keystone Oaks School District
  • Mt. Lebanon School District
  • South Allegheny School District
  • Greensburg Salem School District
  • Homeless Children's Education Fund
  • Operation Military Kids
  • East End United Community Center, Uniontown

Program Goals

The goals of Art Expression, Inc. are as follows:

StArt Growing


Teaches 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.


Seeds of learning are planted each day within our children. These seeds are nurtured and protected. The seeds ultimately flourish into plants with strong roots (the home) and are joined by many other plants that enhance the viability and beauty of the garden where they are planted (the community). Growth is supported by many ingredients including room to grow, sun, and rich soil (the schools). Schools nurture the learning seeds in children, revealing many facets of growth over time. A child’s growth reflects these various dimensions. Physical growth involves nourishing one’s body to make it strong and able to function at an optimal level. Academic growth encompasses challenging curriculum with varied lessons and dedicated teachers. Personal growth involves the ability to relate to both peers and adults. Within these relationships, appropriate communication skills develop and the exchange of ideas is accepted and encouraged.

StART Growing is a program that will creatively integrate science and art in addressing the importance of both self and environmental nurturance. Creating favorable conditions in the environment will allow both the individual and the environment to thrive. Likewise, teaching our students the importance of nurturing not only the environment but also themselves reinforces the importance of sustainable practices in both the social and the environmental context.

The StART Growing experience will encompass planting and nurturing individual seeds in crocks decorated by the students. Students will care for their plants, providing adequate water, light and rich soil. This aspect of the experience will be creative (decorating crocks) and scientific (planting, watering, providing adequate sunlight). 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. In addition to the individual plantings, the culminating projects will involve the planting of bulbs/perennials on the outside of each school building by the students in the StART Growing class during both the fall and spring sessions for the purpose of nurturing the environment and beautifying the exterior of the school. The final prong of the program will be a PowerPoint presentation depicting the StART growing classes.

During the classroom portion of the program, concepts on both self and environmental nurturance will be presented to the students by the Art Therapists. These concepts and lessons are intended to nurture in each of the participants “healthy living” techniques. StART Growing will encompass the literal growing of actual seeds as well as the figurative sowing of seeds related to healthy concepts such a nutritious eating, staying fit and being active. The StART Growing classes are intended to plants seeds of learning to endure far beyond the six week class period. The take away is the planting seeds within each participant focusing on individual worth, value and inner potential. The nurturing of this potential will be initiated during the StART Growing program and continue long after the last class. The final group project of permanent plantings around the schools will beautify the building exteriors, making them pleasant, inviting, and nurturing places within the communities.

Since the beginning of time, man has been inspired to create art utilizing the tiniest seeds of inspiration. This seed of inspiration comes from the environment and a strong desire to represent that seed in a visual way. Once the seed is nurtured, it manifests itself in artistic self-expression, be it in a drawing, painting, sculpture, or a planting. Children are the artists of the future. If we plant the proper seed within their very rich imaginations, the potential masterpieces are boundless.