Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Focusing on nature-inspired student art in Paradise exhibit March 27, 2023

Colorful fish art by Dallas, 3rd grader, Roosevelt Elementary School. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo March 2023)

I APPRECIATE ART. All of it. From performing to literary to visual, art inspires me, uplifts me, causes me to pause and think. Art makes me feel joyful. I am so thankful I live in a Minnesota community where art is valued.

The beautiful Paradise Center for the Arts in downtown Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

The Paradise Center for the Arts centers the arts in Faribault. From theatrical performances to concerts to gallery shows and more, the opportunity to embrace the arts awaits me inside this historic venue. How grateful I am for that.

This poster posted inside the Paradise lists all the schools participating in the 2023 student art exhibit. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

Recently I toured the All Area Student Art Show, an annual exhibit featuring the art of students from area schools—this year eight. From kindergartners to high school seniors, the talent of these students is beyond impressive. Even more, I love that they are given this opportunity to share their work with the public. I often think how this builds self-confidence and encourages these kids to perhaps pursue art, or, at the least, to value it.

Jocelyn, an 11th grader at the Faribault Area Learning Center, created this butterfly. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)
Lincoln kindergartner Reggie created this “Symmetry Butterfly Specimen in Mixed Media.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

As I slowly walked three hallways where student art lines walls and then entered a room exhibiting more artwork, I pondered what I would photograph. I knew I needed to choose samples from each school. I also wanted a range of ages and art mediums, and also to showcase what spoke to me. Art is, in many ways, deeply personal, whether in creating or viewing.

Mallard drake by Adeline, Cannon River STEM School, 7/8 grade. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

Granted, this art was mostly guided by teacher assignments. But still, that leaves space for each artist to infuse his/her style into a piece. Copying art is different than creating art. These students create art.

A block print by Madison, 7th grader at Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Schools. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

Showing you the art I photographed requires more than one post. I took an excess of images, which tells you something about how much I enjoyed this second floor exhibit. Like an editor edits an author’s writing, I had to go through my photos frame by frame and edit. And then I grouped the photos by theme to make this all manageable.

“Tri-Fold Cut Landscape in Crayon” by Addyson, Lincoln Elementary School 5th grader. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)
A hawk by Jefferson Elementary School 5th grader Annalicia. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)
A watercolor flower by Alaina, 8th grade, Faribault Middle School. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

Today’s post is nature-themed. From vivid butterfly to sun-splashed landscape to subdued bird of prey drawn in charcoal, these artistic renditions of our natural world create a sense of wonderment. What a beautiful world we live in, from garden flower to mountain grandeur. These student artists see that, imagine that, create it.

Faribault Area Learning Center 12th grader Josh created this treescape. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

Being in nature takes me to a place that quiets my spirit, feeds my soul, calms me. It doesn’t take much—the rush of water, a vivid blue sky, the silhouette of a tree branch, a blazing sunset. This nature-themed art offers escape, restoration, a momentary respite from our busy lives. I hope these student artists realize the impact of their creativity.

A trio of nature-inspired art by Roosevelt Elementary School students Jeffry, left, Hadia and Steven. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

I hope, too, that these teachers realize how much I value their work in guiding and inspiring their students. Art is as important as any subject in school. I think how art provides not only a way to express creativity but how it also factors into mental health. Just the physical act of using one’s hands can diminish anxiety, ground thoughts, perhaps even spark joy. The benefits are endless from both personal and educational perspectives.

A Ceramic “Squish” Bug with Shoe Impression by Leyton, kindergartner at Lincoln Elementary School. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

My appreciation for this student art show stretches across a spectrum of gratitude. How thankful I feel for these young artists, for the educators who guide them and for the arts center that values their artwork.

Colorful, patterned leaves fall around a bear created by Jefferson 1st grader Ellory. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo March 2023)

FYI: The All Area Student Art Show will run until April 8 at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, Faribault. Gallery hours are noon – 5pm Wednesday-Friday and 10 am-2 pm Saturday.

Art was photographed with permission from the Paradise. Individual artists hold original copyrights to their art. Please check back for more posts on this student art show.

© Copyrighted 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling