Watercolor Christmas trees, pointillism-inspired self-portraits and paint-splashed monsters transformed the Joseph Martin Elementary School cafeteria into a gallery Thursday night.
Art teacher Carol Lemke coordinated the art show to raise funds for supplies and to give students a chance to showcase their talents, she said. Each student had one piece on display, and families were asked to donate $1-2 each for admission.
“The bottom line is that this is a test-centric society, and these kids, in every single subject, are told there’s one right answer, and one wrong answer, and you’re either right or wrong,” she said. “And when they come in here, probably the most surprising thing that they’ve ever found out is that every one of their answers are always right.
“I think to make real problem-solvers in this society, you have to be able to think up different solutions — there’s not always one right answer to every problem,” she added.
But creative expression comes with a price. Lemke began the year with an estimated $500 budget for supplies, and she has spent another $2,000 out of pocket to restock.
For example, Sharpies last about a week because about 300 students share them.
The art show raised $171.74, according to school bookkeeper Theresa Brown, who added that the school has requested donations for several other programs in recent weeks.
Lemke also uses Artsonia, an online gallery and gift shop where parents can see their children’s work and purchase replica images in a variety of forms. Schools earn 15 percent when parents order custom keepsakes with their child’s artwork from the site.
One mother, Chrissy Scoggins, said her kindergartner son Thomas begged her to come to the event.
“He was so excited. He really, really wanted to show me the art …,” Scoggins said.
Though she has never purchased her son’s work from Artsonia, Scoggins shares the images with relatives.
“I think it’s so important that they get that cultural beginning and appreciation,” she said.
In Lemke’s classroom the day before the event, third-grade students completed weaving projects for the showcase and shared their thoughts on the class.
Truc-Mi Hoang said she is excited to attend the class every Wednesday, and her favorite assignment this year was one where Lemke taught them about Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and then they re-imagined the piece.
“When we’re doing art, we get to learn new things,” Truc-Mi said. “When we did the makeover Mona Lisa, we had to do some sketches, and she showed us a PowerPoint of how to make faces and noses and hair.”
“I really like to draw,” Johnathan Lambkeys added. “I really like using my imagination.”
Like Lemke and the students, Assistant Principal Dr. Kathy Moody agrees the subject area is important.
“In addition to math, reading and the core content areas, students need a chance to express themselves through the arts …,” Moody said. “Ms. Lemke integrates a lot of what teachers are teaching in class into her art lessons, which helps the students make connections to what they’re learning.”