Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Valuing art now, more than ever April 22, 2020

 

“Peace” art created by Aseneth, 12th grade, Faribault Alternative Learning Center.

 

ART HOLDS SUCH POWER. Through art we express our emotions, unleash our imaginations, re-create the world, make statements, create beauty…the list seems endless.

 

Art from the Faribault Area Student Art Exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

Whether a professional artist or a student creating art for a classroom assignment, artists make a difference.

 

Adna, Faribault Middle School seventh grader, created this piece of art.

 

Their work causes us to think, to reflect, to look inside, and outside, ourselves.

 

Student art covered hallway and gallery walls on the second floor of the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

Each year students from Faribault area schools exhibit their work at the Paradise Center for the Arts. I photographed selected pieces from that show in mid-March, showcasing some in a blog post on Monday. Today I bring you more of that student art.

 

Lincoln Elementary School fourth grader Yasmin created this bright combo of daisies and oak leaves.

 

The level of talent impresses me. I didn’t possess these skills at this age. Nor do I now. But then my elementary school didn’t offer art classes and choices were limited during junior and senior high school. It was the reality of rural Minnesota in the 1960s and 1970s. Partially because of that art deficit, I deeply value the arts today.

 

Sand art created by Brianna from the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in Faribault.

 

Yet, I recognize that my exposure to the arts remains limited. For many reasons, including financial. So I am thankful for local access to the arts.

 

A sampling of the student art displayed.

 

I fear for the future of the arts with the current economic crisis in this global pandemic. But I try not to dwell on that because we’re all dealing with a lot right now within our families, businesses and communities. Our top concern needs to be our health—protecting one another from COVID-19 and keeping ourselves safe and healthy.

 

This art by Belle, Faribault Middle School sixth grader, simply makes me happy.

 

Art rates as a welcome diversion from reality, from unproductive mind-wandering to dark places. Art brings sunshine and beauty and bursts of joy.

 

Posted in the front window of the Paradise Center for the Arts, a message of togetherness and strength.

 

Now, more than ever, we are feeling the power of connection via art. Sidewalk chalk art. Paper hearts in windows. Music sung from balconies. Concerts that bring musicians from all over the world together. Dancing in hospital corridors and in living rooms.

 

These snow people make me think of the world coming together. Art by Leighton, Jefferson Elementary School second grader.

 

Art brings us together as people. From Italy to Spain to New York to Minnesota. Now, more than ever, we need art.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A Minnesota student art show viewed through a COVID-19 lens April 20, 2020

An overview of one small section of the student art shown at the Paradise Center for the arts, second floor gallery.

 

BEFORE COVID-19 BROKE here in Minnesota, before we began to social distance and isolate at home, I toured the annual Faribault Area Student Art Exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault.

 

The Paradise marquee shows the arts center is closed until May 1, maybe longer.

 

As I do each year, I photograph some of that art to showcase here, as a way to celebrate these talented young creatives and to encourage people to view the exhibit. But the Paradise is closed now and that show by elementary through high school students inaccessible.

 

COVID-19 seems so relentless, breathing a firestorm of infection around the world. Art by sixth grader Eric from Cannon River Stem School.

 

Much has changed in the world since I toured this exhibit a month ago. Viewing it now, through the lens of COVID-19, I see the art from a different perspective. Not as the artists created pre-global pandemic, but interpreted in light of today’s crisis.

 

The virus rolls, overwhelms, overtakes. Yet, in the distance are the bright colors of hope. Art by Avery, fifth grader, Cannon River Stem School.

 

I think we’re all feeling this way. We just want this pandemic to stop, for everyone to be safe and well, and for life to return to normal. Art by Nico, second grader, Cannon River Stem School.

 

This art by Henrik, Nerstrand Elementary School second grader, reflects the #aworldofhearts movement to spread the love via placing hearts in windows to show care and love.

 

That’s the thing about art. It’s open to interpretation. We all bring our stories, our histories, our experiences, our insights, our observations, to art. No matter when it’s made or by whom, art is subjective.

 

A month ago, students would have been thrilled to miss a day of school. But now I expect they all wish they were back in class rather than distance learning. This art was created by Jazz, Faribault Middle School seventh grader.

 

While I will always view Lady Liberty as a symbol of freedom, I now also think specifically of New York and how hard this city has been hit by COVID-19. My heart breaks for New York. Art by Wendy, Faribault Middle School eighth grader.

 

I love Minnesota. And I’m thankful for the strong leadership shown by our governor, commissioner of health and others in leading us during this crisis. Art by Max, Jefferson Elementary School fifth grader.

 

Today, while scrolling through my photos from the student art show, I selected art that holds an entirely different meaning than it would have a month ago.

 

We are all hoping for this at some point–a return to normalcy, to doing the things we love. Like camping. Art by Alex, Jefferson Elementary School fifth grader.

 

Take your time to study this student art. Consider your reaction. And read my thoughts (in the captions under each photo) about the art in the light of today’s COVID-19 reality.

 

This superhero art by Audrey, third grader at Lincoln Elementary School, represents all the heroes out there on the frontlines. The doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery store workers…scientists who are working hard to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

THOUGHTS? I’d like to read your reactions to any of the art featured here.

Please check back for more photos from this student art exhibit.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Inside the Paradise: the work of young Faribault area artists March 12, 2019

Parrot painting by Ava Nelson, 8th grader at Faribault Middle School.

 

THEIR LEVEL OF TALENT always impresses me. Every single time I view the annual Faribault Area Student Art Exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

Viewing student art inside the second floor gallery at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

As I peruse the art of students from Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt elementary schools, Faribault Middle School and Cannon River STEM School, I recognize how this early public appreciation of student art can encourage a life-long love of the arts. The student art lines hallway and gallery walls on the second floor of the Paradise.

 

Cat face completed drawing by Faribault Middle School eighth grader Lily Thompson.

 

 

Believe by Mackenzie Miner, eighth grader at Faribault Middle School.

 

It’s colorful. Subdued. Abstract. Real-life. Introspective. Creative. Everything you would expect in art.

 

Portraits by Alex Hernandez Perez, left, and Cesario Hernandez, both fifth graders at Roosevelt Elementary School.

 

By Alicia C., Cannon River STEM School eighth grader.

 

By Damarius Cisneros, Jefferson Elementary School third grader.

 

Subjects span portraits to scenery. In all seasons. Vivid hues. Monotone. Textured.

 

 

By Henry Dulac, second grader at Lincoln Elementary School.

 

 

By Amirah J., second grader at Cannon River STEM School.

 

This art sparks smiles, makes me wonder about the thoughts of the artists. Were they simply completing an assignment? Or were they moved beyond that to put themselves into their creations?

 

Colorful tree in foreground is by Addison L., first grader at Cannon River STEM School.

 

To the art teachers who guide and encourage these students, thank you. Your efforts show.

 

 

To the student artists, thank you for sharing your art. May art always hold importance in your life, whether in creation of art or in a deep appreciation of art. To create is to express yourself. To create is to make a difference in this world. To create is to boldly put yourself out there. I welcome the opportunity each winter to see the works of these students, these artists.

FYI: The student art exhibit runs through April 6.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

From Faribault students: Simply art February 27, 2019

Henry Johnson of Nerstrand Charter School created this vivid work of art for the Student Art Exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault during a past art show. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

ART, WHETHER VISUAL, literary or performing, enriches our lives.

Art helps us view the world from creative and differing perspectives. It jumpstarts thoughts and conversations, broadens our world, enhances our lives with beauty, causes us to pause and consider. Art stimulates change, builds bridges, enlightens and much more.

We need art. From early on. It’s just as important as math, science, technology…

 

Art from a past exhibit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Give children crayons to scribble, wooden spoons to beat a rhythm upon kettles, books to read or simply turn the pages.

Let them dance. Let them write stories. Let them splash in puddles. Let them create art with chalk and fingerpaints and markers.

Delight in their creativity. Encourage it. Embrace it. Appreciate it. For art holds great value.

 

The art exhibit threads along hallways, into corners and into a room on the second floor of the Paradise. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo from a past show.

 

My community values the creativity of young artists. This Friday, March 1, one of my favorite annual local shows, the Faribault Area Student Art Exhibit, opens at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. Student art will line second floor hallways and fill the second floor gallery.

 

Woven art created by students from the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind for the 2017 art exhibit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2017.

 

The student art always impresses me. The simple. The detailed. The colorful. The color-less. The texture, the patterns, the shapes.

 

Roosevelt Elementary fifth grader Jose painted this portrait for a previous student art exhibit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Each artist holds within himself or herself the ability to express creativity. Certainly, some students are more gifted in art than others. But that matters not in this art show. There are no ribbons, no awards, no rankings or ratings. There’s art. Simply art.

 

Bold, vivid art by students from Divine Mercy Catholic School for a previous exhibit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

For young people to have this opportunity within my community to publicly show their art pleases me. We are telling them we value their creativity. We are teaching them the value of art. And that is a good thing in a world that needs art now more than ever.

 

TELL ME: What are your thoughts on the value of art?

FYI: An opening reception for the student artists is set for 5 – 7 p.m. March 1. The exhibit runs through April 6.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling