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Monroe County elementary artists featured in Eskenazi museum for Youth Art Month



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Mother Sara Elgi points to kindergartener Julian Parks' artwork March 7 in the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art. Student artwork was showcased on the second floor of the in celebration of Youth Art Month.museum . Izzy Myszak

More than 100 pieces of art made by elementary schoolers are on display at the Eskenazi Museum of Art in celebration of Youth Art Month.

Students, parents and teachers attended the Youth Art Exhibition at 10 a.m. Saturday. The works were picked by art teachers at local public schools in the Monroe County Community School Corporation and will be displayed through March.

Art teachers from each elementary school selected eight pieces made by students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The artwork was matted, delivered to the museum by Cheryl Maxwell, art teacher at Grandview Elementary School, and will be returned to the students after.

Youth Art Month, which started in the ‘60s, is a national celebration for visual arts and education for primary, middle and secondary school. It has been celebrated in Bloomington since 1973.

“It’s a huge celebration of our students and their accomplishments,” Maxwell said. “They’re a really talented bunch.”

Maxwell, who has taught art at Grandview Elementary School since 1985, coordinated with the museum for the event. She said color stood out in this show. 

"It's just a high bar, and the kids don't even know that," Maxwell said. "We just do what we do."

Kelly Jordan, Pre-K-12 experiences manager for the museum, said she wanted to show spectators the power of youth art.

“This honors the process of art making, the power and hard work of teachers and the value of how art affects the whole person,” Jordan said.

Children posed for photosSaturday morning, squinting from the sunlight shining through the glass ceiling. Holding hands, they guided parents and family members to their pieces through a thick crowd of about 500.

The pieces were loosely arranged by school, allowing students to look at other artwork while scavenging for theirs. 

Leda, a third grader at Unionville Elementary School, found her landscape of pyramids and camels in Egypt outside the Luzetta and Del Newkirk Café and Gift Shop. The pink and purple watercolor sky reaches the edge of the paper. 

“I saw a lot of art that I really liked,” she said about other students' pieces. “I felt really happy.”

Daniah, a fourth grade student at University Elementary School, painted New York City skyscrapers at nighttime with the year “2020” drawn over it to celebrate the new year.

“Just to make it more festive, I drew a few fireworks,” Daniah said, pointing to the glowing sky. “After a long while, I decided to draw a tennis racket.”

Kindergartener Minh created a cityscape where bright construction paper houses of different sizes overlap each other and are pasted onto a background of more multi-colored houses drawn with crayon.

Maxwell, the Grandview teacher, brought watercolor paintings from her class that students created after listening to “Rhapsody in Blue'' by George Gershwin in class a few times.

Other materials students used included pumpkin seeds, popsicle sticks, pencil, shimmering gold paint and sand.

Students sat on the stairs for a photo around 10:30 a.m., and listened to remarks from Jordan and David Brenneman, Wilma E. Kelley director at the museum. Then, they broke into groups to hear briefly from local artists about their careers.

Jordan said she hopes to expand the number of artworks in the exhibition to make it more inclusive of other kids in MCCSC schools. She said taking the time to appreciate children's work honors children and allows parents to learn about their kids.

“I feel like ceremonies or annual events where we honor the things that we value in our communities has a powerful effect on kids,” she said. "It tells them what we care about."

Ellettsville resident Kim Kern came to see a piece made by her granddaughter Amelia. Kern said Amelia always colors and draws when she visits them.

“I’m very proud,” Kern said. “She’s a good little artist.”

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