GRACE Art is the signature art enrichment program of the Greater Reston Arts Center. Established in 1976 to supplement and support students’ art experience in the schools, today the program serves over 20,000 students in 40 public and private elementary schools in the region.

The GRACE Art program consists of over 80 art portfolios and resource materials exploring important artists, themes, or movements. Each portfolio contains reproductions of artworks, an overview of the theme, study questions, and follow-up art activities and vocabulary. Each portfolio additionally includes a digital version of the portfolio contents to allow content to be presented electronically on Smartboards or computer screens. Each portfolio has been carefully formulated to provide an art historical lesson in a cultural context, but the program can also be used to support interdisciplinary teaching. GRACE Art portfolios abound with connections to history, geography, math, science, literature, languages, social studies, and other disciplines.

Each portfolio focuses on a particular artist, movement, or a theme, and contains the following components:

  • A minimum of eight large laminated art reproductions
  • PowerPoint slideshow of all visuals included in the portfolio and digital narrative materials
  • Written biographical information on the artist, subject matter, or theme
  • Related art and writing activities (Appropriate for grades K-6)
  • A highlights page regarding the most important aspects of the portfolio
  • Student handout summarizing key concepts

How is the program run?

Developed and administered by the Greater Reston Arts Center, the GRACE Art program is delivered in the classroom by parent volunteers, trained under the auspices of GRACE staff and the volunteer GRACE Art coordinators for each school. Nearly 2000 parent volunteers are engaged in the delivery of the program each year.

Each school has a volunteer GRACE Art Coordinator who is responsible for working with the Greater Reston Arts Center and running the GRACE Art program in their school. At the beginning of each year, the Coordinators receive program training and additional resources. Coordinators then identify volunteers from each classroom at their school to act as GRACE Art docents, presenting the portfolio lesson and assisting with the hands-on project. The presentation consists of a 30-minute open discussion with the children about the artist or subject, followed by a 30-minute art activity designed to enhance what the children have learned in their discussion.

How can I get my school involved?

Contact the GRACE Education Manager Sarah Sadler at 703-471-9242 or for more details about the program and how to bring GRACE Art to your school. You will receive a comprehensive package that can be used to present the program to your school and their PTA/PTO. GRACE Art cannot be presented at any school without written permission from the school principal, and funding from either the school or its PTA/PTO. Fees for GRACE Art are based on the number of portfolios presented at a given school. Enrollment begins in June for the upcoming school year, but contracts are accepted continuously throughout the year.

Each March, the GRACE Art program is celebrated in the GRACE gallery with an exhibition highlighting a selection of works by participating students and schools. For more information on the annual GRACE Art exhibition, please see our Exhibitions section.