By Tia Lynn Ivey
Every year, creative students from all four Morgan County schools submit art pieces for the annual A Funky Little Art Thing (AFLAT) exhibit. School leaders had to improvise this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But instead of cancelling, art teachers created an online website to showcase this year’s student artwork for the entire community to enjoy.
“AFLAT is a tradition that my Art Dogs and I look forward to every year,” said Ty Manning, art teacher at Morgan County High School (MCHS). “In it’s almost two decades of existence, the show has been hung in multiple places. Each year’s show has been bigger and better and has had something that made it uniquely different than the ones before.”
Manning was determined not to let the coronavirus deter AFLAT.
“When we realized this year’s actual ‘in-person’ show was not going to be able to happen, we were crushed! I hated it for my students, especially my seniors. Some of them had been waiting for years for their time to shine. I wasn’t worried one bit though. I knew that AFLAT would still happen. When you are an artist, you never give up. You just have to make the best with what you are dealt and go with it. I love how all of us art teachers put our heads together, via zoom and Google hangouts, and planned our first ever virtual AFLAT art show.”
Manning hopes the community will tour the exhibit virtually to support Morgan County art students and to be inspired by their work in such unprecedented times.
“I am so proud of our finished product! Hopefully next year we will be back in the ‘in-person’ mode. But maybe we will also start to do a virtual show every year,” too,” said Manning. “True, it was a ton of work to put the website together, but unlike all of the “in-person” AFLAT shows, this one will hang FOREVER! We do not have to take it down! Students can carry around a reminder of their art journey in their pocket! That is pretty awesome!”
Some MCHS students who created art for the AFLAT virtual exhibit weighed in the experience this year.
““This has been a tough time for all of us, but it’s so great to see everyone coming together to highlight the art that us students have been working on!” Said Molly Head, a junior at MCHS. “Quarantine has been an eye opening experience that has taught us to not take our usual activities for granted. I’m excited to get back in school and make some art for Senior year!”
“My quarantine experience sucked. Sure school was a pain in my neck sometimes, but there were actual people to be by my side during school,” said Elton Tom (Justin Thomas Crowell), a freshman at MCHS. “It has also lead to new things and things I haven’t done before. Like actually spending time with families, keeping those you know and don’t know safe. Extra time to complete assignments I haven’t done yet. Best of all, time to get creative in the best way possible and still have a way to show it off!”
“In person art classes give us the opportunity to learn technique, and online art classes give us the opportunity to really refine our style,” said Anna Grace Bazemore, a senior at MCHS. “So there are bonuses to both, and we have been able to stay connected to our Art Dog family via online art club meetings, as well as online classes, of course. I feel as though we are lucky to have experienced this, even though we lost a lot of opportunities. Where one door closes, another opens, and this door just so happened to show us what I think is going to be the future of education—a mostly, if not completely, online setting and a work-at-your-own-pace format.”
Marjean Meadow, art teacher at Morgan County Middle School is proud of the artwork her students produced for the AFLAT virtual exhibit.
“Approximately 275 students had their art selected for the middle school including grades six through eighth. Two dimensional work included drawing shapes and forms; drawing and printings of imaginary animals and favorite anime,” said Meadow. “Themes for paintings included favorite desserts, fruit, still life, and scrolls depicting asian landscapes and architecture. A South American inspired Amate tree bark paintings of animals and vegetation were painted by sixth grade. Three-dimensional work included clay monster rattles, Japanese inspired tea cup and tray, and Jomon inspired coil contailers, and face jugs or choice ceramic projects of mugs or bowls by eighth grade.”
Meadow believes art is a vital component of a student’s education.
“Art at the middle school is one of 10 connection classes to introduce the students to a variety of materials, historic and contemporary artists, while expanding their skills and knowledge for making art,” explained Meadow. “Emphasis on skill development, while allowing students to expand their personal interests in fundamental for the middle schooler.”
To view this year’s AFLAT Virtual Exhibit, visit: www.sites.google.com/view/aflat2020/home.
To follow the MCHS Art Dogs online, visit: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mchsartdogs, and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mchsartdogs/.