18 panels drawn by students
Posted: February 28, 2014
The Winchester Star
Winchester — Dozens of area children will experience having their artwork displayed like professional artists through the Shenandoah Arts Council’s annual Youth Art Month exhibit.
Special art panels created by children in 14 Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties schools will showcase the talents of kindergartners through 12th-graders in an exhibit that celebrates creativity in youth, said Alli Di Giovanni, exhibit coordinator.
The exhibit opens Saturday and runs through March 29 at the gallery, 811 S. Loudoun St. Admission is free and open to the public. A free artist reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
“We want to promote the young artists in our schools. This gives them a place to show their work where they don’t normally have access to, and it is a great way to involve the community and give them a way to see every day what we are doing in our schools,” said Di Giovanni, art teacher at Handley High School.
This year’s exhibit follows a similar format to that started last year, with 18 large panels sent to participating schools for them to decorate, using one of two themes — “Discovery” or “Lighting up the Valley,” she said. Anywhere from one student to several different classes worked on the panels.
Rick Edwards, art teacher at Garland R. Quarles Elementary School in Winchester, said he sees the exhibit as a great advocacy for his students. “I won’t miss the Youth Art show because their work is always inspiring and fresh.”
This year, when he started talking about the theme of discovery with students in his Tuesday classes, the idea of space came up. They went with the idea, creating a large planet Earth surrounded by different objects in space.
A fourth-grade class was responsible for the planet, adding blue and green tissue paper to represent water and land, said Ryan Stickley, 9, the son of Mark and Beth Stickley of Winchester. Edwards created an outline of the planet looking at North and South America and divided it into blocks for each student.
Ryan’s block encompassed part of Alaska and Canada and he was pleased with how it came out. “I think everybody who made this should be proud of themselves.”
Classmate Jaidyn Bock, 9, the daughter of Stephanie Bock and Joseph Dorsey, wasn’t sure which block was hers, but she remembers enjoying working alongside her friends to create their individual squares. “They helped me and we worked together on tearing the tissue paper.”
All around Earth are rocket ships, moons, astronauts, and other planets. One of the rocket ships and a moon with a rocket on it were colored by Melany Martinez-Ramirez, 5, the daughter of Maribell Ramirez and Valentin Martinez of Winchester.
The color choice for both rockets was fairly simple for the kindergartner. “I have a dress that matches those colors,” she said.
Some of the other panels show brightly colored masks, an underwater scene with a yellow submarine, and detailed pictures of tropical animals.
In the past, the work of three students from each participating school were chosen, but the format adapted last year allows many more students to participate, said Tracy Marlatt, SAC executive director.
“It does add work to the teachers to fit this into their curriculum,” she said, adding that this year was especially hard with all the snow days cutting into their already busy schedules.
After the exhibit at SAC, the panels will be displayed in the stairways of the new Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum for a year, with the understanding they will then be replaced with next year’s exhibit, Marlatt said.
Much of the funding for the canvas panels used in the 2013 exhibit came from donations made to the arts council in honor of James Wood High School student Rhett Goldizen, who died in October 2012, she said.
This year’s wooden panels were sponsored by Winchester City Councilman Jeff Buettner, owner of Buettner Tire Distributors in Winchester, she said.
Beyond being a showcase for the children, Youth Art Month reiterates the importance of art in a child’s education, Di Giovanni said. “Yes they are learning art skills, but they are also learning how to access their creativity and problem solving, which are life skills.”
The Youth Art Month exhibit opens Saturday and runs through March 29 at Shenandoah Arts Council, 811 S. Loudoun St. Admission is free and open to the public.
There will be a free opening reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday in the gallery, which is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and by appointment. Call 540-667-5166 or visit shenarts.org.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com