In celebration of Youth Art Month, the District Art Show returns to Licking Heights Local Schools this March. Artistic expression, though, is alive and well across the district all year long.
The Art Show will take place on March 27, 28 and 29 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Licking Heights High School. It will include over 4,000 pieces from students in preschool through 12th grade. The show is open to the public, and regularly draws over 2,000 guests each night.
The show is a multimedia experience with clay, sculpture, 3D work, paint, pen and ink, drawings and pastels, printmaking and digital art included. For example, in District Art Show Coordinator and art teacher Rachel Fout’s 5th grade art class, student pieces range from models of lunch trays, to handmade baskets of flowers, to sculptures repurposing different materials. Several 5th grade students plan on entering a piece in the show that was inspired by their best friends.
Initially, each school did an individual art show. Fout had the idea to combine all schools into one district-wide show in 2016. Students in the preschool through 4th grade automatically enter work into the show, while 5th through 12th grade students can choose to enter the show and select which piece they would like to include.
“I am a huge advocate for the arts,” Fout says. “Art gives students a voice to speak about not only their interests but something they are passionate about. They have a platform to excel and show off a little bit. Every student is an artist, no matter their technical skill or ability.”
Fout says teachers often come to the show and are amazed by the creative abilities of students they have had over the years. Students at the middle school and Central Intermediate are inspired to continue their art education by the pieces they see from high school students.
In the classrooms of Fout and fellow art teacher Kathleen Quigley, students work in a collaborative environment where they evaluate, inspire and assist their peers. They create project proposals for each piece where they think critically about what the message of their piece is, how they will convey this to viewers and what materials they will use.
Creative expression starts at a young age in the district, with Fout teaching Kindergarten students based on Harvard University’s Studio Habits of Mind: “Develop Craft, Engage and Persist, Envision, Express, Observe, Reflect, Stretch and Explore, Understand Art Worlds.” Her goal is to both encourage students to express themselves and teach them transferable life skills in critical thinking, teamwork, collaboration and persistence.
“Opportunities like the art show give every student the opportunity to excel, especially students who may struggle academically,” she says. “Art just makes us a well-rounded person. What students learn in the art room can be applied to other classes.”
The district’s art teachers will be docents for the show and also hang and display all of the art. Licking Heights will allow students to come visit the show during school hours as a field trip.
The Artists’ Choice, Judges’ Choice and Best of Show awards will return this year for participants. New this year are the Principal’s Choice and Superintendent’s Choice awards. The winners will have their pieces displayed for a year in the principal’s office and district office, respectively.