A funky little Art Thing... AFLAT
By: Beth Johnson; Staff Writer
Photos By: Angelina Bellebuono
Students from all four schools in the Morgan County School System presented original artwork at “AFLAT: A Funky Little Art Thing” last Thursday. The Morgan County Cultural Center donated their hall for the event, with the middle school and high school jazz bands performing as parents and students perused the art, trying to find their pieces and admiring the works of others.
This was the second year that AFLAT was held at the Cultural Center, never having quite found a permanent home at previous locations.
“To have it in a real cultural space is really exciting to (the students),” said Marjean Meadow, who teaches sixth through eighth grade art at Morgan County Middle School. “I think it’s a wonderful venue for people to see the whole gamut of art from kindergarten on.”
Judy Barber, the executive director of the cultural center, attended the event Thursday and was pleased with the outcome.
“I thought it was wonderful,” she said in a separate phone interview afterward. “I am amazed at the quality of both the visual arts and the music at the schools in Morgan County.”
Barber plans to keep having AFLAT at the cultural center.
“It is something we really want to continue,” she said. “This year and last year it was an event for the parents and kids, but in the future we want to really invite the whole community.”
Each of the four art teachers who had students in the exhibit took a different approach with their kids. Leslie Ryals, the primary school art teacher, said she did not even tell them that it was an art show first to not let it change the work they would produce in any way. The children had several different art units, including one on Georgia O’Keefe and one on making butterflies in 3-D, before their work was selected for the show.
Ryals said of the excited response she got, “I had a second grader that thanked me for his invitation and said he was willing to miss his soccer game to come.”
Morgan County High School art teacher Ty Manning is able to take a freer approach with his students.
“I always leave my assignments open-ended,” he said.
Tenth grader Nyeijuan Mack, a promising student of Manning’s, featured several pencil and graphite drawings of celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Michael Jackson.
“I kind of get tired as I go along,” Mack said. “So I always try new things are try to out-do what I did.”
In between taking pictures and posing with her students by their art pieces, Laura Rice, the art teacher at Morgan County Middle School, said that seeing the end products of the students’ work is gratifying.
“I get to watch them grow as artists and develop their style,” she said.
Amelia Anderson, a third grader and one of Rice’s students, says that her favorite part about art is that “you can just express yourself.” She has already found an inspiration in local Madison artist Susie George.
“If I had to choose a favorite, it would be Susie George,” said Anderson. “She paints unusual stuff that most people wouldn’t paint.”
When asked why they loved art so much, most said something along the lines of how third grader Hope Johnson put it.
“It is my favorite,” she said after posing for a picture with her self-portrait. “I love art because I can lean a lot of stuff and express myself.”
Printed in the April 8, 2010 edition.