Against All Odds: Student Art in the Library

Monday, April 12, 2021

#The Best of Middle School Art Exhibit April 17 through May 9 in the Gallery at Main

 

#The "Best of" Art Shows

This Spring, Jacksonville Public Library will have had the unique pleasure of hosting “The 2021 Best of Elementary Art Show" and "The Best of Middle School Art Exhibit." These annual art shows are extra special this year, after having been cancelled by the pandemic last year. Not only that: students and teachers had to overcome a lot of obstacles in their art-making when COVID safety protocols changed how art was taught in the schools. The Elementary art show wraps up April 14 and the Middle School art exhibit starts April 17 and runs through May 9.

#Exuberant Elementary Art

Sprinkled across 15 different library locations, this delightful collection of paintings, collage, and mixed media highlighted the creativity of student artists in our local elementary schools. The show wraps up this week on April 14. An annual show, this year’s entry felt a bit more special. In addition to color, line, shape, and texture… there was exuberance and resiliency on display, too.

Guitar by Caden Dallas (grade 1) of Chimney Lakes Elementary
Guitar by Caden Dallas, 1st grade. Chimney Lakes Elementary.

#Art in the Time of COVID

Following the success of the Scholastic Gold Key Exhibit, this “new beginning” represented by the "Best of Elementary" and "Best of Middle School" meant that things were getting back to normal. Not only that, there were beautiful things on the walls again, inspiring both customers and staff alike to all think happier thoughts. It’s made all the more meaningful when you consider that these pieces were created when these amazingly resilient children were living through one of the most challenging years of their young lives.

In the majority of Elementary schools, the resource teachers don’t have their own classroom. Even if they do, their students aren’t allowed to go in. For COVID-safety, they stay in the same classroom most if not the whole day – to limit the spread of germs and the risk of infection. So, the teachers must carry everything with them on carts from class to class. There are often no drying racks or really many places to store in-progress or completed work. In at least one case, the teacher only has a closet in the school library in which to keep her cart and any student art she may need to store.

art teacher carrying supplies on a cart
Kristen Armstrong at Kernan Trail Elementary (mask removed for picture only) traveling with her art cart between classes.

What’s more: often students need to bring their own art supplies. There’s no sharing allowed right now. And the teachers have to limit what they share (and what the students touch) because everything has to be sanitized between uses. The limited materials and space has affected the types of artwork that the students can create. Still, though, they create. And what they create is not just good, it’s often magical.

#Next Up: Middle School Art

While the current show ends April 14, “The Best of Middle School Art Exhibit” follows shortly after – running April 17 through May 9. This second, juried exhibit will feature 169 of the best 2D and 3D art by Duval County Public School middle school students. Like their elementary school counterparts, these students faced several obstacles. The other similarity? Their artworks are also quite touching - often dealing with topical issues and new realities.

While these older students were sometimes able to go into the art classrooms – allowing for longer, more detailed projects that could be worked on over a period time – they still had to deal with a lot of uncertainty and change. With children entering or leaving Duval Homeroom and others having to quarantine at home for extended periods of time, there was a lot of movement… and a lot of times work could have gone unfinished. They persisted.

In spite of everything, these remarkable students were able to produce high-caliber work that they and their teachers and parents should be proud of. We hope you will come and see it and that you will continue to support the arts and these talented young people.

  • Sequestered by Madison Mathews, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

    Sequestered by Madison Mathews, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

  • Environmental Awareness by Maciejane Morrow, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

    Environmental Awareness by Maciejane Morrow, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

  • My Color is No Secret by Martin Mark, grade 7 LaVilla SOTA

     

    My Color is No Secret by Martin Mark, grade 7 LaVilla SOTA

  • Puzzle Me by Elinor Kaplan, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

     

    Puzzle Me by Elinor Kaplan, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

  • Young Not Invincible by Haylee Williams, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

     

    Young Not Invincible by Haylee Williams, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

  • Self Portrait by Deo Greene, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

     

    Self Portrait by Deo Greene, grade 8 LaVilla SOTA

Jeremy Yates

Jeremy Yates Jacksonville Public Library

Jeremy Yates is a maker, visual storyteller, D&D player and lifelong Disney fan. He is also the newest addition to the Jacksonville Public Library's Marketing Department. When not at work, he enjoys spending time in a galaxy far, far away through Star Wars audiobooks, movies and TV shows. Or you’ll find him binge-watching other fantasy and sci-fi shows, playing Pokémon Go or just spending quality time with his equally-geeky partner Andrew and their extremely food-motivated Border Collie Watson.

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