After two years on hiatus, it was a welcome return for the Arts Alive student art showcase, hosted in the old gym on the Escalon High School campus.
The show features artwork from students at all grade levels within the Escalon Unified School District and it was also open to the public during the high school Open House on Wednesday evening, March 23.
Throughout the week, March 21 through 25, elementary and middle school students came through to view the artwork and younger students had the chance for some hands on art projects to do and take home.
“It’s a mix of nostalgia and joy, honestly,” admitted Collegeville and Farmington Elementary Principal Dr. George Megenney, touring the show with students from Collegeville on Thursday morning, March 24. “To see this come back, our younger kids have never had this experience at all and the older ones may not remember it because we haven’t had it for two years. It has been inspiring to them and it demonstrates that art has an important role to play in their school experience.”
Escalon High School art teacher Jewell Kelley said students from art classes and the high school’s Art Club worked several ‘shifts’ during the week, the older students helping the younger ones with art projects. There was also face painting, the chance for students to find the artwork they did, and the opportunity to make decorative buttons, do some coloring, play with building block/dominoes, create spinner and roller art and more.
“I remember doing the face painting and spin art, having fun,” sophomore Sara Garza said of her younger days when she was a visitor at the event, not a helper. “I like to experience art.”
A ‘Feature Artist’ at the event, with one display containing some of her works, was EHS senior Yaneli Cruz. She serves as vice president of the Art Club and is in Kelley’s Advanced Art class.
“She told me when she came here (as an elementary student) it made her want to draw people,” Kelley explained of the artist, who has honed her skills throughout her high school years. “She has worked in every medium, oils, pastels, chalk.”
Art Club president Josh Carrillo, also a senior, had some works on display as well and Kelley said both are “dedicated to their craft.”
Theme for this year’s Arts Alive was ‘Connections’ – chosen, in part, because that is something many people have missed during the social distancing and distance learning brought about by COVID-19.
“All the things we were missing out on, art actually got us through it,” Kelley said. “Everybody has worked so hard to get to this point.”
She said there were literally thousands of pieces of artwork on display from the youngest district students to the oldest. Classes from the various schools were there to tour every day, with Dent Elementary sending classes in on Monday and Tuesday, March 21 and 22; Van Allen on Wednesday, March 23; followed by Collegeville and Farmington classes on Thursday, March 24 and rounding out with El Portal Middle School classes touring the show on Friday, March 25.
“All of my art classes and the Art Club kids are working the stations,” Kelley said. “They love it as much as the little kids and our high school kids have been so patient and kind.”
She also said the young students visiting the event like the chance to take home some art projects in addition to seeing all the work on display.
“The excitement, when they come through and get to see their piece (of art) on the wall,” Kelley said, makes the effort to put the massive show together well worth it.