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A Tradition

Virtual show kicks off Youth Art Month

Tessellation of a chameleon by Peyton Wotorson, seventh grade, Sheffield Area Middle School.

March is Youth Art Month and young people all over Warren County are celebrating by participating in a virtual art show.

“Youth Art Month is a tradition in the WCSD School District Art Department who partners with the Warren Public Library to feature artwork of WCSD art students,” Eisenhower Art Teacher Jessica McElhaney said. “We typically feature their artwork in the Wetmore Gallery at the Warren Public Library, but due to circumstance concerning the pandemic it was decided to create a Virtual Youth Art Month Celebration.”

Despite not hosting a physical venue, the library is happy to participate.

“Every March, the Warren Public Library hosts a student art show in honor of Youth Art Month, which supports and emphasizes the importance of art education in the schools,” Children’s Librarian Susan Slater said. “Art teachers from Warren County School District, St. Joseph’s and homeschoolers select artwork from their talented art students to showcase in the show. The Youth Art Month show collaboration has been going on between the schools and library for over a dozen years.”

“If this were a normal year, we would have an open house for the show,” Slater said. “Every year, hundreds of proud students and their families attend the open house, where the students are awarded Art Award Certificates for their achievements.”

Linear perspective of a city street by Kendra Casey, fifth grade, Beaty-Warren Middle School.

And the works by the students would be hung in the gallery all month, “so students, families, friends and the general public could take their time to browse the show and enjoy the eye candy that is made by many talented students of all ages.”

“Even though we cannot hold an in-person show this year, art teachers again collaborated with the library because we know it is so important for the children to have a venue to showcase their talent so many can see,” Slater said.

“The 2021 art show is presented in a virtual format and it features students from Warren County School District and homeschoolers from kindergarten through eighth grade. The Youth Art Month virtual art show can be viewed via the Warren Public Library’s website and Facebook page as well as the participating schools’ websites and social media.”

“Each K-8 Art Teacher created with a Microsoft SWAY Presentation or Power Point Presentation sharing their student artwork from their school,” McElhaney said. “This presentation… will give the community an opportunity to view the creativity and self-expression of our Warren County School District Art Students.”

The art teachers – including Terri Walters (Warren Area Elementary), Ashlee Sprandle (Beaty), Janelle Turk (Sheffield), Andrew Pollard (Eisenhower), Heather Walters (Youngsville), and McElhaney – chose the works that will be displayed.

“I am very proud of our students and honored to share their work with you,” Turk said. “It has been a tough year, with many challenges and constant change, but our students have shown grit and determination to persevere.”

“Our dedicated students created many of these projects at home with the help of friends and family,” she said. “The other projects were created at school with limited access to art supplies and many fluctuations in their schedules. Despite these challenges, we have a fabulous collection of fun projects to share with you.”

“Art is essential to a student’s education,” McElhaney said. “It is important to give students the opportunity to create and show their artwork, especially during the circumstances that the pandemic brings each day.”

“Students are given the opportunity to express themselves through creativity, expressive colors, or dramatic black and white drawing or images, and discuss their feelings about the artwork they have created,” she said. “Art allows students that visual outlet, to not only appreciate the artwork of others, but to also take pride in their creations and stimulate a meaningful an engaging experience.”

“You can tell how proud the students are by the sparkle in their eye and the way they walk when people are admiring their artwork,” Slater said. “What a great way to build confidence.”

According to information from the Council for Art Education (CFAE): CFAE administers Youth Art Month. Youth Art Month encourages support for quality school art programs, and promotes art material safety. The CFAE administers the program at the national level. The program provides a medium for recognizing skills developed through visual arts experiences unlike any other curriculum subjects, including: problem solving, creativity, observation, and communication. Art shows, special exhibits, fundraisers, and school and community activities take place annually, traditionally during March, to celebrate visual art education for grades K – 12.

Children’s Art Month, as it was originally called, was started in 1961, Slater said. It later turned into Youth Art Month.

“In my early years as the Children’s Librarian I read about Youth Art Month and reached out to area schools with an invitation to participate,” she said. “The response has been wonderful and it could not be done without the dedicated art teachers throughout Warren County.”

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