IT IS AN INCREDIBLY uplifting story in a time when we need positive news. Chapter three in the story of “Ukrainian Art for Ukrainian Kids” continues to write hope into my days and restores my confidence in the goodness of humanity.
That’s a phenomenal amount of money generated already from the sale of art created through the years for the International Kids’ Owl Art Contest. When war broke out in Ukraine, Owl Center staff pulled all of the Ukrainian student art from its collection, partnered with the Houston Area Community Foundation and worked with volunteer Jayne Overstreet to set up an online auction series.
While the ultimate goal is to raise monies to help youth in war-torn Ukraine, the hope is also to establish a sense of connection with those young artists. Most attended schools in eastern Ukraine.
IF I COULD TALK to these students, what would they tell me about their art? Would their responses show a passion for creating? Would they tell me they were just completing an assignment? Or would their answers fall somewhere in between?
As a wordsmith, I often wonder about the stories behind the art displayed at the annual All Area Student Show at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. While perusing the pieces, I see varied versions of the same theme. That reveals a general classroom assignment focused on a subject. Yet even that prompt leads to individual creativity.
What would Ayub, Mariyo, Isaac, Natalia, Aubrey, Lily, Myrka, Jaelynn, Mumtaaz, Brianna, Rain and the many other student artists say about their art? The art they created at their respective schools—Faribault Area Learning Center and Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt Elementary schools.
When I view their exhibit, I am impressed by the level of talent—from kindergarten through high school. But this is about much more than talent. This is about encouraging young people in the arts. This is about showing us adults that young people have an artistic voice. This is about taking away our own interpretations of this artwork.
I appreciate how, even on the theme of nature, students’ interpretations range from boldly colorful—as if illustrated in a children’s picture book—to realistic—as if printed in the pages of a nature guidebook.
The art shown in this exhibit conveys celebration, joy, history, a sense of place, personality, messages, nature and more.
If these students wrote artists’ statements, what backstories would they share? What inspires them? Why did they choose bold or subtle? Are they conveying a message? Or simply creating?
As someone who’s created with words and images for decades, I understand how my prairie background, upbringing in a southwestern Minnesota farm family and personality influence my work. I write and photograph with a strong sense of place, with detail. And, I hope, with compassion, empathy, understanding, connection and a desire to make a positive difference. I listen. I observe. I create.
I create, too, with a focus on what’s right here—in our area communities, in the countryside… And, today, what’s on the second floor of the Paradise Center for the Arts—the art of young creatives.
THE ALL AREA STUDENT SHOW rates as one of my annual favorite art exhibits at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault. I love viewing the creative efforts of students from elementary age through high school. Their talent always impresses me and this year is no exception.
But the 2021 show, because of the pandemic and mostly distance learning, is scaled back. Way back. Art lines only a section of one hallway rather than multiple hallways and the walls of the second floor gallery.
Not only are fewer pieces of art displayed, but the art, too, reflects the pandemic and distance learning. Students from Bethlehem Academy, for example, drew portraits. Of their masked selves.
I also noticed a lack of copycat art with teachers assigning students to a specific art task and then student after student after student creating the same thing. I observed more creativity and diversity. And I really appreciated that individuality as it allows students to open their artistic wings and soar.
Paradise Center for the Arts Executive Director Heidi Nelson and I briefly discussed my observations. She agreed that distance learning definitely factored into the artwork, noting that some of the art is computer generated/created.
However these students created—whether via a pencil or a brush or a computer or some other method—they share the common denominator of making art. And for that, I feel inspired and grateful.
FYI: The All Area Student Show on the second floor of the PCA continues through April 10. The Paradise Center for the Arts is open from noon – 5 pm Thursday and Friday and from 10 am – 2 pm Saturdays.
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.
“If My Thoughts Had Wings” colored pencil and watercolor by Jeanna Krause, a senior at Ellsworth High School. Her art is priced at $1,000.
AS A CREATIVE TYPE who creates with words and a camera, I am often impressed by the works of visual artists. Incredible talent exists out there among painters, sculptors and others.
The Phipps Center for the Arts, Hudson, Wisconsin.
Signage promotes the student art exhibit.
A first look at the main floor gallery space art.
I am especially impressed by artwork displayed in the current Annual Area High School Art Exhibition at The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin. High school students from western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota were invited to submit pieces as were teachers of the participating students. Their art fills polished gallery space on two floors of this beautiful near waterfront property along the St. Croix River. The artwork ranges from paintings to photography to collage, ceramics and much more.
Annika Shiffer, a senior at Eau Claire North High School, created “Cherry Blossom” from soapstone, wire and glass beads. It is not for sale.
This untitled collage by Shelly Schmitt of Somerset High School is not for sale.
Mallory Bleeker, Ellsworth High School sophomore, created this charcoal portrait of Matt Damon. It’s not for sale.
The variety of art and the creativity therein exhibits a professional level of artistry. It was hard for me to believe that these artists are high school students, still learning. I enjoyed the humor of a senior from St. Croix Preparatory Academy who priced his ceramic coil pot at “$100,000 (college tuition).”
The gallery spaces are polished and gleaming, a lovely canvas for artwork.
Stillwater Area High School senior Natalie Gella crafted this stoneware clay “Scared Face,” not for sale.
So much talent in this incredible art…
One student-artist will be awarded a $2,000 Alice M. Stolpe Scholarship for the Arts at a May 7 closing reception. Choosing a winner among those planning to major in art will be difficult, in my opinion. Peruse this sampling of art created by 109 students (and three teachers) from 15 schools. You’ll see why I am impressed by their work.
Casey Loe, senior at Eau Claire North High School, created this “Be Bold” ink art which is not for sale.
Travis Eisberner, Eau Claire North High School junior, created “Geometric Reality” in acrylic. It’s not for sale.
Kendall Isaacson of Somerset High School crafted this untitled ceramics art which is not for sale.
Pretty incredible art, huh?
Dylan Cook, senior from Stillwater Area High School, created this analogue photography “Hell Erupts!” priced at $50.
FYI: Gallery hours at The Phipps are from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday; from noon – 4:30 p.m. Sundays; and an hour before and through intermissions at all the Phipps theater performances. This exhibit closes on May 7.
One of the gallery spaces overlooks the St. Croix River across the street.
The art center is located in downtown Hudson at 109 Locust Street.
PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS on this exhibit.
NOTE: Photos of artwork are published with permission of The Phipps Center for the Arts. All artwork is copyrighted by the artists and cannot be reproduced or used without their consent.
The art exhibit threads along hallways, into corners and into a room on the second floor of the Paradise.
EVERY TIME I VIEW the annual Student Exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts, I want to snatch several pieces from the walls for my art collection. I’m that impressed by the student art. And I’m not just saying that because I want to be nice and tell the kids they do a great job. My praise is genuine.
What I especially appreciate about this second floor show is the opportunity for students to put their art out there in a public venue. I expect one day the works of some of these artists will hang in the Paradise’s main floor galleries or in other galleries.
This photo shows part of high school student Audrey Petersen’s “Peacock Feathers” acrylic on canvas. Her art is currently displayed in the Corey Lyn Creger Memorial Gallery.
Already the Corey Lyn Creger Memorial Gallery in the Paradise is devoted to artwork by a high school student artist.
Student artist Faith created this cartoon style character.
Lots of variation in the art showcased on this wall.
Roosevelt Elementary fifth grader Jose painted this portrait.
It’s reaffirming for young people to have their talents validated and appreciated, whether on the floor of a basketball court, the stage of a theater or in the hallways and rooms of an art center. All too often the arts lag behind sports in societal importance. Arts are to be valued, too.
Art angles into a corner.
A streetscape by Brooklyn, Faribault Lutheran School fourth grader.
I angled my camera upward to photograph this floral art by Faribault Middle School eighth grader Baylee.
To the students from the nine Faribault schools—Roosevelt, Jefferson, Lincoln, Faribault Middle School, Faribault Area Learning Center, Faribault Lutheran School, Cannon River STEM School, Divine Mercy and the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind—with artwork on display, thank you. I enjoyed your creativity.
So much creativity…
This skull art by Faribault Middle School eighth grader Bailey features symmetry.
The variety of subjects and artist styles and mediums impresses.
I see a lot of potential as these artists continue to grow and learn.
Bold, vivid art by students from Divine Mercy Catholic School.
FYI: The Student Exhibit will be on display until April 1 at the Paradise, 321 Central, in downtown Faribault.
Please check back for a story on art created by students from the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind.