Annual art collaboration with Albert Lea students opens

Published 3:38 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

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By Ayanna Eckblad

This month the Albert Lea Art Center will be packed with art made by the city’s students in the 2024 All School K-12 Art Show.

The exhibit will feature pieces from students from every school in the district, including all elementary schools, Southwest Middle School, the high school and the Area Learning Center.

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Southwest Middle School art teacher Alissa Sauer has been teaching in the area since 2016 and has spent many months preparing for this event. According to Sauer, there are many methods teachers use for collecting their students’ art so compiling it all can be a challenging feat.

“Every art teacher has their own method in which they pick out pieces,” Sauer said. “Some people are really good about collecting throughout the entire year, setting aside projects that they think are very strong and very well done by students, and sometimes artwork is collected a little later in the year … I actually start collecting artwork as soon as the end of the first month or two of school … So it’s really at the teacher’s discretion. They have their own different ways that they like to tackle that.”

The Albert Lea Art Center will host an open house for the student art exhibit from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. Sauer said she is looking forward to seeing what the afternoon brings.

“A lot of us art teachers make a point to be there at the open house so we can be there to talk with parents and their students [about] questions and answer them.”

Sauer added that art is different from other academic disciplines because there are tangible pieces that students can use to show what they have learned.

“That makes it really interesting and being able to see them all together, compiled, even for us art teachers,” she said. “We don’t realize how much we accomplish or how much even the kids accomplish until we have them. It’s really cool just to see it all come together.”

She added that the exhibit gives the younger kids the opportunity to see what older students have been able to accomplish and gives them something to look forward to in their art journeys.

Not only are teachers looking forward to seeing the art displayed, students are as well.

Seventh-grader Sophia Abrego said, “I have always wanted to be an artist when I was little and I made my dreams come true. Well, I could say I have gotten better.”

“I think it’s very cool because not everyone gets the privilege,” said Chloe Habana, another seventh-grader.

Sauer said art is meant to inspire, provoke questions and instill emotions in people.

“I hope that they get all those things by coming to the art show,” Sauer said. “It doesn’t have to be anything deep or philosophical, but being able to connect with the artwork, get inspired to do their own things.”

Sauer said she always tries to get her students to “do [art] because it’s cool, not because it’s easy.”

When a student comes to her and says, “I have a really cool idea, but I feel like it’s too hard,” she replies with, “Well, maybe it’s not and you just need guidance and direction and supplies and that’s what us teachers can help out with. … It’s always good to push and stretch yourself. If you’re not challenging yourself, you’re not learning much.”

The pieces from the 2024 All School K-12 Art Show will be displayed at the Albert Lea Art Center through April 24.

The center is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

“Art is just something I’ve always liked to do,” said Carter Flugum, a seventh-grade student. “It is nice having art displayed.”