Celebration of art takes on different form this school year

The celebration of a school year’s worth of art will look a little different this year.

Celebrate Art, an annual event that has given Mahomet-Seymour art students a chance to showcase their work annually, is in a transition year.

The nearly 20-year-old tradition began as a fundraiser for the Mahomet-Seymour Education Foundation in 1999.

But as the M-S Foundation has found success with raising funds for the district through the Bulldog Bash, Celebrate Art became a community outreach program during the spring.

The partnership between the Foundation and M-S art teachers gave students the opportunity to display their art in a gallery-style exhibit. At the elementary level, art was selected by the student’s art teacher randomly.

As students progressed in age, the showcased art selection became more subjective based on the art’s merit.

Each spring, art teachers cataloged and matted each piece of art that had been selected for the art show, while the Foundation provided activities, entertainment and food. A panel of local artists also judged the show.

Earlier this year, the Foundation decided to not host Celebrate Art, but offered a funding mechanism for the annual event if the art teachers decided to continue the event.

With limited time, the art teachers came together to organize a way to showcase student artwork in a different way this spring and to come up with a plan to organize a different annual art event next year.

As parents come to parent/teacher conferences at Lincoln Trail and Mahomet-Seymour Junior High on March 15, they will be able to see student art near their special’s classroom.

“One time before retiring I don’t have to say no to anyone,” Lincoln Trail Art Teacher Sue Fones said. “You’re in the show.”

Over the last few weeks, students have worked to express themselves on a small piece of art. All 659 students will have their art on display.

MSJHS Art Teacher Nicole Kelly said student art will be on display alongside other Essentials work, like STEM and Technology.

Sangamon Elementary will take a bit of a different approach.

After Art Teacher Jeramie Truax realized how much she enjoyed displaying student art in businesses through her BLAST class Art-ature, she’s decided to reach out to local businesses, like YoYo’s, to see if student art can be displayed there later this spring.

She will also work on “Farewell to Sangamon” art with first- and second-grade students to showcase at the school as the district prepares to move classrooms over to the Middletown Prairie Elementary.

MSHS students will have an opportunity to showcase their artwork in the Apollo Conference Art Show this spring.

The district art teachers are also looking forward to the future as they try to decide how to provide an opportunity for the art community come together once a year.

“(The students) deserve an audience,” Fones said.

The teachers said that the art show is about so much more than ribbons.

For some students, the art celebration brings out a new love for art.

“Since I blind choose, sometimes there will be an artwork that I wasn’t expecting from that kid, and then they are in the show,” Truax said. “It’s a major deal for them. I’ve had parents say that they framed his/her artwork and now it’s in the living room. Now all they want to do is draw. I’ve had lots of cases like that.

“I’ve seen it a lot where they’ve blossomed after that.”

At Lincoln Trail, Fones was only able to select approximately 70 pieces of art, which is about 10-percent of the student population.

“So 90 percent of the kids go home thinking that they are not good at art because they didn’t get in the show, and I’d tell them that’s not true at all,” Fones said.

Instead, she encouraged the students to go to the show, to study the elements of art that the judges were interested in and to support their peers.

“And when they do, they have a blast,” Fones said.

The Celebrate Art atmosphere also offered a chance for community members to see student progression throughout their art education.

“You can see the breadth of what the students are doing,” Kelly said.

“The little guys, I love to see their work with the bigger kids work because it gives them a sense of accomplishment,” Truax said. “It makes them feel bigger than life. I just like that extra boost for them because there is something to look forward to.”

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