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Student art raises $2,000 for supplies
Madison Abbott, right, and her mom look for her painting among the hundreds on display at the Jefferson Elementary School student art show. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

JEFFERSON — Becoming a professional artist has become child’s play at Jefferson Elementary School.

The school recently sponsored an art show featuring more than 360 framed paintings by the school’s first- through second-grade students.

For the show, the students pulled out all the stops in literally creating their own works of art inspired by Vincent van Gogh.

"The kindergarten students studied van Gogh, and so they made their own van Gogh-style painting for the show," said Elizabeth Wheeler, the school’s art teacher. "The first-grade students painted large flowers like Georgia O’Keeffe and the second-grade students painted floral still lifes."

Although the pictures were painted by elementary students, it doesn’t mean that they put any less thought into their masterpieces than any other professional artist.

"I wanted to use a lot of color in my painting," said Madison Abbott, a first-grade student. "My favorite colors are pink and purple, so I used them in my painting too."

The art show was more than a showcase for the student artists, it was also fundraiser for the school’s art department.

The show was sponsored by a company that also provided the framing materials for the paintings. The school receives 20 percent of the proceeds from each painting sold.

The school sold about 300 of the students’ paintings, which means Jefferson Elementary stands to make a profit of nearly $2,000, Wheeler said.

Most of the paintings were purchased by students’ parents.

For many artists, painting is a labor of love, which makes parting with it difficult, just ask Jonathan Beriault.

"I want to put my painting in my room," said the first-grader. "That way, I can look at it every morning when I wake up."

As most governmental agencies, including schools, are forced to cut back on spending for non-essentials, fundraisers like the student art show are important to help fund electives such as art programs.

Wheeler said the art department plans to use the money to purchase a new pottery kiln, which costs about $2,500, and other art supplies.

"Art connects to everything, and in my class we integrate all subjects to reinforce concepts that students are learning in their regular classroom. My class is a creative outlet for students and also a place where they can make connections to other subjects," Wheeler said.

"Art provides an opportunity for students to express themselves and think creatively. In an era of high stakes testing, I think it is very important that we nurture our student’s creativity and their ability to be independent thinkers and problem solvers. Art meets this need."