Parents and teachers purchase washable markers in case kids get ink on their clothing. But as one elementary school art teacher discovered, giving children permanent markers and fabric pens can result in some festive high-fashion designs. In 2018, art teacher Rebecca Bonner of McAuliffe Elementary School in Highland Village, Texas, began a collaborative project with her over 500 art students. The young artists helped design a unique piece of fashion that their creative teacher wore—not once, but twice—to display their work. The dress then went viral and is still enchanting viewers today.
Bonner got the idea for the art project from a Facebook group of educators who were sharing their creative ideas for student engagement. The Texas educator wanted to get her students excited to create artwork. So, she bought a simple white dress on Amazon and supplied her pupils with permanent and fabric markers. Each child took part in the gown’s decoration by adding their own unique design. It turned out to be both fun and a great opportunity for learning. “We talked about how we had to be respectful of each other’s artwork,” she explained, “and chose images that I would like on my dress.”
Once completed, Bonner wore the now rainbow-colored dress to two years’ worth of art fairs in her district, much to the delight of her student artists. Her daughter Charlece Lake posted an image of her mom wearing the student art on Twitter in 2019, and the images quickly went viral. Bonner was puzzled by this. “Not really sure how it went so viral… But I sure am glad that it put some positivity out into our world about public school, the fine arts, and teachers.” The devoted art teacher also shared that she hopes young people will be inspired to pursue careers in arts education.
Meanwhile, her students have been begging her to make another dress.