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Live Oak becomes art gallery

Elementary school students create, sell works of art in Castaic

Posted: October 26, 2009 10:48 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

J.T. Yeyna, 8, and sister Charlianne, 6, examine the work of their kindergarten schoolmates.

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Students at Live Oak Elementary School got a chance to discover the artist within when the school held its first Kids Art Fair.

The multipurpose room of the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade campus was transformed to accommodate 175 pieces of art created by students on Oct. 13.

Strewn twinkle lights set the mood for an intimate atmosphere, as the art creations were on display in double-matted, beveled-edged frames.

Creating the look of a professional art gallery, the school invited parents, teachers and family friends to attend the show and view the spectacle of artistic expression among students.

"It was fun to watch the looks on people's faces as they saw the art. I especially liked the way my parents looked," said fourth-grade student Cody McGraw, 10. "I think it made them feel proud to see what I did and that made me feel proud too."

Students in each grade level were asked to create individualized projects for the show.

Working with a range of age-appropriate art mediums, students created cityscapes and collages as well as works of pastels and watercolors, among others.

Gallery guests could purchase a piece of interest for $32.87, a figure offered for every picture.

But some visitors knew that the work on display was priceless.

Parent Allison Banry couldn't resist her second-grade daughter's project made out of scrap paper.

"I wasn't planning on buying anything, but once I saw her picture I just couldn't resist. I think it was really beautiful," Banry said.

Banry's daughter Maryn, 7, used pieces of pastel scraps to create an image of her family home.

"I have the picture hanging in our house now and that's really important for her self-esteem," Banry said. "I hope that the school keeps doing the gallery every year so that we can start a collection of framed pieces. That will be really great to look back on in the future."

The school joined forces with Kids Art Fairs, a program designed in 2007 to elevate the importance of creative, artistic expression in children's development in schools across the nation.

With the mission to build children's self-esteem and confidence through preserving creative expressions, the fairs allow parents to see artwork from other students and purchase framed, professional-looking pieces from their children.

Live Oak fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Harris was given the task of bringing artistic expression to life in the school's inaugural fair.

"It was a beautiful night," Harris said. "A lot of work went into it, but when everything came together and you saw the creations on display, it made it all worthwhile."

Harris headed up the organization of the fair and made sure that all students had their finished art pieces turned in and ready for presentation.

"I think seeing the displays in these dramatic black frames really made even the simplest art pop out and look striking," Harris said. "A lot of people were very impressed. Parents got a chance to see how talented their child is, but the students got to discover this as well."

"I think the most important thing was that each student was impressed to see their artwork in a whole new way," Harris said. "This may help them to feel more confident about themselves and what they can accomplish."

More than 200 guests attended the fair, where three large gift baskets of art supplies were raffled and refreshments were served to gallery viewers.

More than $4,000 was raised from sold pieces of art, with 20 percent of proceeds to benefit programs offered through the school.

But raising money was only part of the school's goal among its student body.

McGraw saw that the fair was also a chance to express himself.

"I really liked doing my project during class time because we don't get to do a lot of art in school," McGraw said. "Art is one of my favorite subjects so I wish we could do more of it. The fair was a lot of fun and I want to do it again!"

Budget cuts have decreased the amount of art education offered in school, leaving few opportunities for students to explore the world of creative expression.

But Banry knows that the art show can still go on for students at the school.

"It's nice to see the teachers and administration stepping up and bringing art back to the classroom however they can," Banry said.

"It is sad to think that art has taken a backseat lately, but I think the idea for the fair this year was great. I just think it's important to have it continue and keep growing."

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