Art League reaches out to schools

Published 10:22 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

In a time when many schools across the country are cutting their fine arts programs to save expenses, there is a fear that students will lack the opportunities to explore their creativity.

Here in Suffolk, the Suffolk Art League wants to make sure that does not happen.

For the past two weeks, League members have orchestrated the Visiting Artist Workshops for each of the city’s middle schools.

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These workshops bring local artists into the classroom to show students their work and their methods.

“I cannot think of any art league in the Tidewater area that does this,” said Sandee Darden, art teacher at King’s Fork Middle School. “It’s truly a wonderful opportunity for our students to experience other views, other ways of looking. I think it’s really important for them to get that kind of exposure.”

League members agree.

“Part of our purpose is to bring art and art programs to our community,” said Arlene Zeiler, education coordinator for the arts organization. “This is a wonderful way to do that. We’re introducing art to people who may not ever have the opportunity to do something like that.”

Beginning in late April, each middle school hosted its own workshop, with a different artist and different medium being shared.

Students at King’s Fork made their own collage screens. Forest Glen students made acrylic paintings, and students at Nansemond Suffolk Academy worked with pastels. On Wednesday, students at John F. Kennedy learned more about watercolors, and on Friday afternoon the Visiting Artist Workshop wrapped up at John Yeates Middle School with a presentation on papermaking.

“What the Suffolk Art League does is create an opportunity free of charge for our students to learn and grow as artists, and I cannot emphasize enough how fantastic that is,” Darden said. “They supply the artists and the necessary supplies. It’s a win-win situation for us all around.”

It’s also a winning situation for the art league.

“The children really are the creative thinkers of tomorrow,” Zeiler said. “The creative thinkers are going to be the problem solvers of tomorrow too, so, you really want to foster that any way that you can. We’re excited to do it, and anytime we do any kind of workshop with the schools, the teachers are excited about it too. It’s a great thing that we’re thrilled to be able to provide.”