Student Art at the Dixie Classic Fair
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
OCTOBER 3, 2019 – Wendee Smith teaches art at North Hills Elementary. She likes being able to put her students’ art on display at the Dixie Classic Fair each year.
Knowing that thousands of people will be seeing it inspires the students and gives them purpose as they work on their art, she said.
“It gives students an appreciation for their own work,” Smith said.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 2, Smith joined art teachers from throughout the Winston-Salem/Forsyth school system hanging art in the Education Building at the fairgrounds. The fair opens on Friday, Oct. 4, and the art will be on display until the fair closes on Sunday, Oct. 11.
In choosing the art to display, Smith chose pieces that were well-crafted and unique and pieces in which students had taken her instructions and expanded on them creatively.
Many of the art teachers had help from family members. That was the case with Smith, whose husband, David Smith, was the helping her hang the art and take care of whatever other details needed attention.
Alice Morley – who, along with Barbara Trinh, teaches art at Mount Tabor High – had help from a current student, Hampton Hurdle, who is a senior, and a 2018 graduate, Kirsten Fink, who is now studying at Forsyth Technical Community College. Fink likes art so much that she plans to teach it after going on to get her bachelor’s degree at Appalachian State University.
In picking out the art to include in the show, Morley said, she and Trinh choose art that best represented the art program at Mount Tabor.
Beatrix Hutton, who teaches art at Kimberley Park Elementary, had the help of her parents, John and Kathleen Hutton. John Hutton is a professor of art at Salem College.
Of all the public shows where art by Winston-Salem/Forsyth County students is on display, the fair is by far the biggest in terms of numbers of people seeing it, said Penny Freeland, the Visual Arts Administrator for the school system.
Having the art there is a way to connect with a community that truly supports the arts, Freeland said. “This is an awesome school district for the arts. There is a lot of support, and you can tell. It shows up in in the students’ work.
Freeland made a point of praising the art teachers for what they do.
“We have a phenomenal art staff,” she said.
Some of the art teachers have been teaching for more than 20 years. Others are relatively new. This is the first year teaching art for Gina Lopez-Padilla, who is at Speas Global Elementary.
“She is doing a great job,” Freeland said.
Joe Sereika spent his career teaching art. After retiring from teaching full-time, he came back part-time to teach art at Morgan Elementary, along with art teacher Riley Luper.
Sara Young-Cross, who teaches art at Kernersville Middle has been teaching art for 21 years. She thoroughly enjoys working with students in middle school. Many of them have not yet realized that they are gifted artists, she said. She likes watching them grow as artists and loves it when they come back later to tell her their plans about pursuing some aspect of art.
On her own, Young-Cross enjoys painting. She usually chooses something in nature.
“I love to do flowers,” she said.
Lauren Cross, who is in the sixth grade at Kernersville Middle, was helping her stepmother get everything ready.
Art teachers Emily Beach and Kenneth Mulwee were hanging the art created by their students at Reynolds High. Working with the other art teachers at Reynolds, they chose pieces that represented the breadth and quality of the work by Reynolds students.
At the Clemmons Middle display art teachers Stacey Stephens and Katherine Howard were getting everything ready to hang. Michael Sullivan also teaches art at Clemmons Middle. At the beginning of the school year, each of them chose a different project for their students to work on so a number of different types of art would be on display.
Stephens and Howard really like being able to put student art on display at the fair.
“It’s a great way to advocate for our community,” Howard said.
“I think that is super important,” Stephens said.
At the Flat Rock display, art teachers Dudley Smith and Christian Lee were hanging their students art.
At the display next to them, Meadowlark Middle art teachers Liz Miller and Deirdre Mullen were hanging their students’ art.
Miller’s daughter, Charlotte, who is a sixth-grader at Meadowlark, was there with her friend, Eliza Strickland. Both girls were looking forward to coming back once the fair opened so they could enjoy the rides and such treats as cotton candy, snow cones, and funnel cakes.
At the Sherwood Forest Elementary display, Isabel Parsons, who is in the first grade at Sherwood Forest was helping her mother, art teacher Stephanie Parsons.
Isabel loves making her own art. Puppy dogs are at the top of her list of subjects.
In choosing art for the Academy at Middle Fork display, art teacher Megan Garner chose a variety of subjects.
“I try to pick some examples that are strong and demonstrate the talent we have at the school,” Garner said.
In choosing art for the Easton Elementary display, Shelley Meeks was partial to art in which students had taken the directions and added their own personal twist to it.
“I definitely like creativity, Meeks said.