Laurie Fevrier, an eighth grader at Carlos E. Haile Middle School, has been impressed whenever she saw a classmate’s artwork showcased in a gallery, art show or exhibit in the community.
She hoped one day her work would be presented in a similar manner.
On Nov. 11, Fevrier won’t have to wait any longer as her watercolor painting will be one of 10 student pieces from Haile Middle to be shown at the Manatee River Artists Guild at Waterlefe Art and Craft Show and Sale.
The Manatee River Artists Guild donates proceeds from its art show to Haile Middle and Freedom Elementary School each year, but this is the first time it will display the students' art.
Each school will select 10 students to showcase their work at the art show.
Kristen Simpson, the art teacher at Freedom Elementary, said having student artwork in the art show is an amazing opportunity.
“It gives them a feeling of confidence,” she said of her students. “It gives them a feeling of self worth to know they did something that not everybody could do. When they find out they have a piece going into a show, they are super excited
"It gives them more confidence to try new skills here they might not feel they’re ready for. They’re willing to challenge themselves a little bit more. It makes them feel like they’re part of a community and people outside the school care about what’s going on.”
Simpson is grateful for the support of the Manatee River Artists Guild at Waterlefe. When she started at Freedom Elementary last school year, she was shocked to discover a community organization supported her art class with a donation each year.
“I couldn’t believe there was a group out there that was willing to support the arts as much as they did,” she said. “It allows me the ability to buy different types of materials that my kids normally wouldn’t get a chance to experience.”
With the donations, Simpson and Joe Gibson, the art teacher at Haile Middle, have been able to buy various supplies for their classes, including glaze, charcoal vines, oil paints and canvases.
Fevrier, Freedom Elementary fifth grader Anna Burke and fourth grader Keyghan Moser all said they feel honored to be selected to present their works of art in the Manatee River Artists Guild at Waterlefe’s art show.
Fevrier is showing an original piece featuring a monochromatic blue fish surrounded by coral. She used different shades of blue to express the various lines in the piece, which show all the details of the coral and fish.
Although it can take Fevrier some time to decide what she wants to create, she said she loves the freedom.
Freedom Elementary second grader Marlie Brooks learned about the power of lines in artwork and was tasked with created her own piece using various lines. She decided to create a landscape with hills featuring rainbows and trees.
She loves being able to put an idea to paper and make them a reality.
Brooks' drawing will be one of Freedom Elementary's student artworks on display at the show, but Brooks also has ventured into other forms of art. She's made stuffed animals and objects. Her favorite is a stuffed pizza.
Freedom Elementary fifth grader Anna Burke and fourth grader Keyghan Moser learned about artist Jen Stark, a multi-media, contemporary American artist best known for creating optical art using colors in patterns and drips.
Although each piece had the same general concept following Stark’s style, Burke and Moser put their own twist on their pieces, choosing what colors to use and where and how they wanted their black lines to look to demonstrate the drip effect.
Burke likes to compare her work to the artist to see the similarities and differences.
For the students, art is their way of expressing themselves.
Fevrier said while some students might choose to express themselves through clothing or their personal style, she uses art. If she’s feeling sad, bored or unmotivated, she channels it into her art.
Although Burke and Moser said they are nervous but excited for the art show, they look forward to receiving feedback from those who attend.
“I feel nervous because I want somebody to like it,” Moser said. “I want to prove that I’m good at it. I want to show people I’m worthy of it. I worked very hard on it. I’m proud of myself for actually making it (into the show). Most kids don’t really get their art into an art show.”
Throughout the school year, the art teachers try to expose their students to as many different mediums as possible from clay to paper and collage to painting and more.
“I’ve tried to hit on a little bit of everything because some of them enjoy working with chalk, some like oil pastels, some like to sculpt,” Simpson said. “I’ve even ventured into sewing with the older kids so they learn how to thread a needle. Things like sewing is a life skill. … I try to teach them things they could possibly use in the real world but make it in a fun way.”
Attending the art show will give the teachers and students an opportunity to see pieces from local artists.
More than 25 artists will be showcasing their work at the art show. There will be scratch art, fused glass, quilts, photography, Christmas decorations and jewelry as well as oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings.
Simpson hopes exposing her students to local artists’ work will encourage them to try new things with their art not only in the classroom but at home as well.
“Everybody starts with that first painting, and if you bomb it, you bomb it,” she said. “You learn from it and then you change it and try to learn from your mistakes. Each time you get a little bit better. Practice makes progress.”
Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.