Student art of the Wasatch Back
The goal for the annual Wasatch Back Student Art show is to give children a place to show their creations, said Jenny Diersen, education director at the Kimball Art Center.
"A lot of these kids come through our galleries in the course of a school year and see these cool exhibits such as the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit that was here a few months ago, and the Lego exhibit, ‘Art of Brick’ by Nathan Sawaya that we just closed," Diersen said during an interview with The Park Record. "It’s really fantastic for the kids to have a chance to be inspired, and then given a theme to create artwork that they can show and be proud of."
This year’s show, which will be on display in all three Kimball Art Center galleries, will run from Saturday, April 27, through Sunday, June 2. Admission is free.
The theme for this year’s art is "Around the World," which was decided by the public in collaboration with the KAC staff.
"We come up with ideas and then narrowed them down to three selections," Diersen explained. "Last year, we announced those choices to the community and had them vote.
"We will do that again when this year’s exhibit opens up, so the public can vote on next year’s theme on some ballots that we will have set out," she said.
Earlier this week, the staff began unpacking more than 300 works from students in all the public and private schools from Park City and Summit and Wasatch Counties.
"We also have works that home-schooled students have submitted as well," Diersen said. "The last time we looked, we have more than 300 pieces that will be on display, and we still have a stack of entries we need to look at."
Park City School District Visual Art Educator Debra Barfield Corrigan, who has worked for 13 years at Ecker Hill Middle School, said the show was important because it not only showed off the talent of the students, but also introduces the KAC to the general public.
"It shows what the Kimball Art Center is, and that’s important because it is the public’s art center in this community," Barfield Corrigan said. "We just took a tour of the center and most of the kids didn’t realize admission was free and open to the public."
Barfield Corrigan said she likes timing the Kimball Art Center field trip close to the art show date so the kids can transport their works that will be part of the exhibit themselves.
"I like when they hand the art off to the Kimball staff," she said. "It’s great to see the staff reactions and to see the excitement in the students’ faces. It’s something that means so much to the kids."
Also, Barfield Corrigan said it was important for her students to see what their peers are doing in the other counties.
"I like that the show is not just for Park City," she said.
More than 100 students from Ecker Hill will participate in the show this year.
"We did a collective piece about recycling, with old magnets," Barfield Corrigan said. "When we heard about this year’s theme, my students and I brainstormed and came up with an idea of making butterflies out of magnets, and had them landing on metal objects, such as door knobs and other things the kids have found."
The kids also discovered a big rusted piece of metal at the side of the school that no one needed.
"So we used that for our display," Barfield Corrigan said. " It will be hung up with all the butterflies on it.
In addition to Ecker Hill students, other students’ works will be spotlighted in the show as well, said Susan Parker, ArtsPark director and one of the art teachers at the Park City Day School.
"I teach the younger students — kindergarten through third grade— and there are about 55 students in my classes who made works that will be part of the show," Parker said. "There is another art teacher, Lindsay Wellman. Who teaches the fourth through ninth graders, and I’m not sure how many of her students are participating, or how many works she is sending, but her students made some amazing tea pots."
Parker loved this year’s theme because it was easy for her students to understand.
"The Park City Day School does global education," she said. "For example, the second graders were studying about Greece, so we made the connection with mythological characters and gods and goddesses with clay sculptures and drawings."
The kindergarteners created sun prints that were inspired by African kente prints, and the fifth graders made clay sculptures based on Native American storytellers and stories, Park said.
"The third graders did spirit masks and studied mask making around the world and the kids had to come with a bigger idea to express in mask form," she said.
Students from Parker’s other organization, Artspark — a nonprofit organization which provides students from the different Park City schools, the opportunity to learn art — also made some art for the show.
"We have tooled metal wall hangings that were inspired by African art," she said. "The 17 students sewed the metal to burlap and decorated a wall hanging with other stitching and paintings."
They also made clay vases that were inspired by Dale Chihuly’s glass exhibit that was at the Kimball at the beginning of the year.
"We toured the exhibit and the kids made sketches of his works," Parker said. "We went back to the classroom to make the vases."
Parker said students enjoy art because they are interacting with materials and ideas.
"With art, there is a direct connection with the students, because they aren’t spending all their time listening to a teacher talk," she said. "They are experiencing how to convey their thoughts, and if there was a concern, we would talk through the projects to get the kids to understand what they wanted to do."
The biggest challenge was transporting all the work to the KAC.
"We would make these big pieces of art and then realize we needed to fit them in the car," Parker said with a laugh. "I mean, the Sun mural is so large that I had to fold it in half to stick it in my car."
Still, Parker has no complaints.
"This is a great opportunity for students in Park City to have a gallery that will feature their works for a month," she said. "I know the KAC isn’t going to make any money, but it will raise awareness of art education in the schools. And I can’t thank them enough for offering the gallery space to the kids.
"I have attended many student art openings and have seen families with parents, siblings and grandparents take photos of all the artwork with their students," she said. "It’s a big deal."
The Kimball Art Center, 628 Park Ave., will host the annual Wasatch Back Student Art Show, which will feature works from students of Park City, Summit and Wasatch counties schools. The exhibit will run from Saturday, April 27, to Sunday, June 2. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.
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