Boise art education project aims to help kids and teens manage their anger in healthy ways

University of Utah professor Janet Kaufman is the creator of the “Grump Meter” and co-author of “The Grump Meter, A Family Tool for Anger Control.”

Think of the Grump Meter as a color yardstick that kids and teenagers can make themselves, then use as a tool to describe their feelings, and find healthy ways to manage their anger.

Kaufman is working with artist and professor Hugh Merrill to introduce different local groups to the concept of the Grump Meter, then create public art pieces. Merrill, a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute has been working in Boise for three weeks as an artist-in-residence at Surel’s Place. During the residency, Kaufman and Merrill have worked with refugee students from Boise schools, the Boise Bicycle Project, Boys & Girls Club, Idaho Fine Arts Academy, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, and the Boise State Writing Project. They’ve guided groups of kids, adults, even law enforcement professionals through the process of making Grump Meters and exploring how different groups could use the tool in their work.

“The goal,” said Kaufman, “is to use the language of color to get a community-wide conversation going about feelings, behavior, community and safety.”

Over the last couple of years, Kaufman has used the Grump Meter in a community based research project at a school in Salt Lake. She found that discipline referrals dropped 30 percent over the course of a semester with the use of the Grump Meter. She is exploring its use as a tool for teen suicide prevention.

Kaufman and Merrill are opening the doors of Surel’s Place, 212 E. 33rd St. in Garden City to the public from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16 for “An Interactive Exhibition: The Language of Color.” The event will mark the end of Merrill’s residency in Boise. Kaufman and Merrill will speak about their work, which includes making a series of 10 banners based on the Grump Meter philosophy, using images from Kaufman’s and Merrill’s sessions with Treasure Valley residents. Guests on Tuesday will also be invited to participate in a hands-on activity related to the project.

The event is free and open to the public.