The Summer Slide


           Emily Collins, Scripps College '19

interviewed Maria Veronica San Martin 

In this print, I wanted to focus on the impact of the summer break on learning for low-income children.  While the summer is, for most kids, a needed break from the structured learning of school, it can also cause significant losses in knowledge of recent material.  This loss is most frequent for students from low-income families, who lose an average of 2 months of reading over the summer, compared to their peers from higher income families, who often are able to slightly improve their reading scores due to increased levels of access to various summer programs.  This gap compounds upon itself over time, becoming larger and larger as each summer passes. By 9th grade, ⅔ of the total achievement gap between children from low-income and higher income families is a direct result of this summer loss, which has been dubbed the ‘Summer Slide’. That being said, research has found several ways to reduce the effects of the summer slide.  Access to public libraries and other sources of educational and engaging summer entertainment have been shown to significantly reduce summer learning loss. The best way to reduce this loss is simply to continue positive reading habits during the summer.

While creating this print, I realized that I wanted to be direct, to tell people honestly what I want them to do when they walk away from my print.  To instill a sense of urgency, I decided to print the words in red, emphasizing the seemingly basic message: READ. The image I included was printed using a linoleum block.  It features two children on the cover of a book, one climbing up the open cover, and the other sliding down. Each child is meant to represent the progress of children at different income levels over the course of a summer; one is slowly climbing, almost at the top of the book, and the other is sliding, having already lost a significant amount of the progress they had previously made.  I hope that after seeing my print, people become more curious about the Summer Slide, and find community based ways to reduce this learning gap wherever they live.

Ganzeer was one artist who significantly influenced my print, in both the content and the design.  At the Goudy Lecture on Scripps campus in March, Ganzeer mentioned that he always focuses on the message of his art first, and then finds a way to express that.  While we were more limited, I tried to use the fact that I knew that I would be creating a print to my advantage. Education has always been a passion of mine, and given that this class has been dedicated to books, I thought it was particularly fitting to highlight the power that books can have once again.  Ganzeer’s poster work, such as in the U2 music video ‘Volcano,’ helped me to imagine the formats that my print could take. I also drew inspiration from the print collection of the previous Book Arts and Social Justice class. I was able to connect directly with several of the experiences and messages conveyed in the prints from last year.  These connections helped to ground me in the project, making the process of creating a print with meaning and power feel tangible and achievable, even to a person who did not at the time believe in her artistic abilities.