Art for children’s sake

Published 5:03 pm Sunday, March 13, 2011

Madison Johnson, a first grade student at Lakeview Elementary School, shows off her giraffe picture at the Albert Lea Art Center on March 6. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

Skylar Larsen’s collage of flowers in a vase was more than just a cut-and-paste project for his art class.

The vase, cut from white paper, was decorated with a blue crayon using a textured background to give it a striped effect. The swirls of red paper used to craft the rose were cut using precise detail, to allow the flower to pop out, giving it a 3D effect. Special scissors were used to give other flower petals more than a straight edge.

Larsen’s collage is one of more than 300 pieces of art crafted by Albert Lea students on display at the Albert Lea Art Center. The Elementary/Secondary Art Show began March 2 and runs through April 2.

Fifth grader Cullen Willis shows off his painted polar bear, on display at the Albert Lea Art Center.

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The art, crafted by Albert Lea elementary, middle school and high school students, fill the walls of the Storrer, Cruikshank and Herfindahl galleries.

“Between this and the Festival of Trees are probably our two busiest shows each year,” said Ruth Olson of the Art Center.

“This one is always well attended because the students bring their parents to see their work,” agreed Marty Shepard, artistic director of the Albert Lea Art Center.

The open house was March 6. Children led their parents through the galleries in search of their pieces of art, while Olson handed out cookies to children and cups of coffee to the adults. Parents could be heard praising their children for a job well done. Cameras clicked as the kids posed with their original creations.

Fawn Dietz and her brother, Justin, view student art during the open house at the Albert Lea Art Center on March 6.

Larsen, a second grade student at Lakeview Elementary School, attended the event with his mom, Kim Wangsness. Wangsness said the arts are celebrated in their house, where she and her son both enjoy painting. Skylar even has his own children’s set of paints next to mom’s set.

“He’s really good with birds, too,” she said, adding that experimenting with color is another aspect of art that her son enjoys.

Shepard said this show is important because it gives the kids the opportunity to show off the art they’ve created in a venue beyond the kitchen refrigerator, giving them confidence in their work. She also noted that art is a basis for all learning.

Skylar Larsen, a second grader at Lakeview Elementary School, showed off his flowers in a vase collage at the Albert Lea Art Center on March 6.

“Art affects all of the other forms of learning,” she said. “It starts there and increases your knowledge into other learning. It’s the basis for all learning.”

“It’s amazing some of the things the kids do, and it exposes them to many different things, too,” said Angie Johnston, whose son, Hayden, is a Lakeview third-grader with art in the show.

The type of pieces on display spans the imagination of students, from pencil sketches, chalk drawings, acrylic paintings and paper collages to masks crafted from real feathers, beads, sequins and yarn.

Madison Johnson, a first grade student at Lakeview, showed off her crayon drawing painting of a giraffe on paper. After it was colored to her liking, she crumpled it up, put it in water, and then laid it out to dry. Guided by her teacher, Raissa Beyer, Madison learned how to add depth in the form of a “wrinkle effect,” to her picture.

Angie Johnston, whose son, Hayden, has art in the show, looks at student art at the Albert Lea Art Center on March 16.

Cullen Willis, a fifth-grade student at Hawthorne Elementary School, proudly showed off his polar bear painting to his parents. He and five other students painted similar polar bears, as instructed by their teacher, Andrea Harves, but each artist picked his or her own action going on in the scene.

Cullen’s polar bear was sledding down a hill, straight toward a snowman. An oil pencil was used to craft the sled, giving it a different texture than the paints used for the other parts of the photo. He said art is one of his favorite classes, and he’s had a piece of art in the show each year since he was in second grade.

Winter was also the subject matter for Fawn Dietz, a first-grader from Sibley Elementary School. Dietz made a snowman from torn up bits of paper and glued them onto a larger piece of construction paper. She used black round pieces of paper for buttons and brown for the arms.

Mackenzie Herr, a third grade student at Lakeview Elementary School, poses next to her art at the Albert Lea Art Center on March 6.

She said it’s her first time in the show, and while art is her favorite subject, she admitted she enjoys drawing more than cutting and pasting.

The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays through April 2.