Citizen Staff Writer
ANDRES A. NAVARRO
Her thick lavender eyebrows and pursed sky-blue lips are vibrantly beautiful. But it is her piercing blue-green eyes, outlined by gobs of smudged mascara and eyeliner, that are most compelling. They hold a story all their own and raise a series of questions: Is the woman sad? Has she been crying? Is she in pain? Why?
Only the artist knows for sure. For now, visitors to Tohono Chul Park’s art gallery can only speculate about the emotional state of “Woman,” a mixed media and collage work by Isa Baldwin, a 10th-grader at Green Fields Country Day School.
Baldwin’s piece is part of an exhibit at Tohono Chul showcasing the works of art students from Kino Learning Center, Green Fields Country Day School and St. Gregory College Preparatory School.
The annual display, “That’s Artrageous: Works by Student Artists,” highlights what local schools are doing in their art programs. The first component focuses on Kino and ends Tuesday. Next up is Green Fields, followed by St. Gregory.
Ranging from age 6 to high school seniors, the students work with their teachers to understand the creative process and the value of art. Their pieces range from huge detailed oil paintings and welded statues that recycle old forks and horseshoes to carefully sculpted miniature slug dragons and knights to poetic collages and aluminum can pieces.
Vicki Donkersley, curator of exhibitions for Tohono Chul Park, believes the exhibition provides an opportunity to show how these students are exploring their creative side.
“We live in a visual culture,” Donkersley says. “When studying art and teaching it, you’re achieving visual literacy.”
Tohono Chul approached the three schools about displaying their creations, and the educators embraced the idea.
“Art has always been an important part of Kino,” says Judy Stewart, an art instructor at Kino Learning Center. “We always try to integrate arts into other aspects of education.”
Students at Kino have an open art center where they are free to choose the type of medium they want to focus on and the materials they wish to use. Students are also free to seek guidance from Stewart and the other art instructors.
“It’s usually based on their interests,” Stewart says. “Afterward we set up a plan to complete the body of work and any help they might need.”
Eli Roepke, 12, like the rest of the students at Kino, welcomed the opportunity to have his work displayed.
“I was very excited but nervous at the same time,” Roepke says. “I didn’t start working on anything until after we were told about the exhibit.”
An important reason for having the show, educators say, is to conserve local art programs and to demonstrate why art is essential to a student’s learning experience.
“It seems like when there are budget cuts, it’s always the arts that are the first ones that get cut,” Donkersley says. “We hope that parents and students are seeing the message that this is important for education.”
IF YOU GO
What: That’s Artrageous: Works by Student Artists
When: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. daily through Sept. 9. Closed July 4.
Kino Learning Center through July 8
Green Fields Country Day School July 10 through Aug. 12
St. Gregory College Preparatory School Aug. 14 through Sept. 9
Where: Tohono Chul Park’s Exhibit House, 7366 North Paseo del Norte
Price: $7 adults, $5 seniors and active military, $3 students, $2 children 5-12, free children 4 and younger
Info: 742-6455, tohonochulpark.org