‘A Unique Perspective’

JMU Displays Local Students’ Art At Exhibit

Posted: February 17, 2014

Elijah Lorson, a first-grader at Redeemer Classical School, displays his artwork during the seventh annual Area Youth Art Exhibit on Sunday at James Madison University’s Memorial Hall. Artwork from area students in grades K-12 will be on display through Dec. 16. (Photo by Jason Lenhart)
Family and friends of young local artists browse the exhibit at JMU on Sunday. A variety of work from students in grades K-12 is being featured in the former high school’s first- and second-floor hallways, including iPad-generated art.

HARRISONBURG — It’s a work of art.

Artwork from more than 100 local students will be on display for the next 10 months at James Madison University’s Memorial Hall.

The seventh-annual Area Youth Art Exhibit opened Sunday and runs through Dec. 16.

 A variety of work from students in grades K-12 is featured in the former high school’s first and second floor hallways, including iPad-generated art.

That has JMU instructional technology professor Diane Wilcox excited. She’s been teaching visual literacy and instructional technology — including iPad-made art — at the university for 10 years. The foundation for what she teaches her college students is on display at this year’s exhibit of younger artists’ work.

“I’m always surprised at the quality of the work,” she said.

Area elementary, middle and high school art teachers select some of their students’ best work for the exhibit.

“It’s great for the community to see what we do,” said Jauan Brooks, now in her 19th year teaching at Harrisonburg High School.

One of the pieces — which is actually three in one — depicts the hand of God reaching down to earth, a woman, a boy and black flies, all framed from inside a window. “Black flies” is the name of the piece. Although the artist, 11th-grader Emma Jackson, wasn’t available to tell the story behind the artwork, Brooks emphasized that each piece tells a story.

Jackson’s etching began with her practicing it on a compact disc, Brooks said.

“She chose to do it in three separate pieces,” she explained.

Jackson etched the drawings on Plexiglas. Paper was then placed on the etching and it was run through a press.

Elijah Lorson, a first-grader at Redeemer Classical School, also has an etching on display.

His piece titled, “Farmyard chickens,” was done with kitchen utensils.

“We use forks and knives to etch the chickens,” Elijah said. “Then we put ink on foam and foam on paper. It was kind of fun to use kitchen tools to make stuff. It was kind of awesome to use ink to transfer it to paper from foam.”

Deborah Carrington, professor of early elementary and reading education at JMU, started the first exhibit in the spring of 2008 with only 32 pieces from Harrisonburg City Public Schools students.

She has seen it grow to where it is today. The exhibit now also includes artwork from students in Rockingham County and the area’s private schools. The exhibit features work from city and county schools in alternate years, with different private schools included each year.

“When the college and the community at large acknowledge that this is an important skill, that sends positive and strong messages to the students, that ‘Hey, this is valued,’” she said in a press release. “Research shows that if these kinds of skills are not acknowledged or validated, they will diminish.”

Young people “have a unique perspective on the world,” she added. “And when they share their work with us, we get a glimpse into that and see new facets of the world.”

Phil Wishon, dean of JMU’s College of Education, thanked the students for their work during a ceremony on Sunday.

“We cannot let the arts die,” he said. “You’ve brightened this wonderful old high school. It’s a real thrill to walk through these halls.”

Contact Caleb Soptelean at 574-6293 or csoptelean@dnronline.com



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