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Middle school show returns to celebrate young artists

“I’m very proud of what we do and what the children accomplish in the amount of time we have them,” said Halifax County Middle School art instructor Sarah Helen Greenbacker, commenting on the upcoming art show from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the middle school lobby and cafeteria.

Art students in all grades at the middle school will showcase their work for their family and friends, teachers, administrators and the public in general. All media the students have used to date including paintings, drawings, sculptures and others will be featured in the middle school art show, the brainchild of Principal Beverly Crowder.

“Several hundred students are going to be represented,” said middle school art instructor Forrest Layne. “A number of the students will have multiple projects on display.”

The middle school art show is making its return after many years absence.

“This is the first time we have done an art show in recent memory,” Layne said. “Cheryl Watts told me that when she taught here years ago they would do something in the spring.

“I don’t know if it was just the students’ work or if it was like an art show, and people came as a fundraiser, kind of what they used to do at C.H. Friend,” he added. “As far as I know this is the first one in a long time that just focuses on the students’ work.”

Many of the young artists will be in attendance Thursday night to put faces with their works of art.

“The students will be here I hope,” Layne said. “They’ve been asked to dress in light shirts and dark pants or white shirts and black pants so when someone sees them they’ll know that they are a student and can ask about their art work.”

“This is a good way for the parents to see what their children are doing in art,” Greenbacker said. “That’s one of the reasons why I’ve always liked the Halifax County Fair is because they can show off what they’re actually doing in art.

“They (parents) don’t ever really see it. A lot of times our children are real good at balling things up and throwing them away, and they just don’t get home,” she added. “And they have work that they can be very proud of.”

Greenbacker said another reason for holding the show is to demonstrate the importance of art.

“The children get a lot out of it,” she said.

“The kids have an opportunity to display their work,” Layne explained. “A lot of them are very proud of this work, and another reason is the emphasis on the arts and what we do.

“For them to be able to enjoy school and have fun making a project like this,” Layne continued, “people need to see it. Don’t hide your light under a basket, let it shine. It’s great to do it in class, but it needs to be seen.”

“Art is to be seen, period,” said Greenbacker. “That’s why you do art, to be seen.”

“For these kids though, they want some good attention and some positive feedback for what they’ve done,” Layne added. “They’ll enjoy getting it from the public, the people that come, their parents, their family.”

Both art instructors agree a number of their students have real talent, even to the extent that some of them possibly could make a living through commercial art and other art vocations.

“We’re trying to meet the needs of those students, Layne explained. “But we’re also trying to get all the kids who come in here a foundation in art, a way they can enjoy it and incorporate it into their lives.

“Sometimes I tell them ‘you may never take another art class, but one day you may have an apartment that you want to decorate or that you may be painting yourself. Or one day you may enjoy going to a museum with your own kids,’” he said.

“You can make art from anything, just about,” Greenbacker added.

Both instructors said they have assigned projects to their students that relate to their core classes, such as social studies or math.

Layne said the students have been given invitations to take home to their parents and other family members.

“I think they’re going to be surprised at the huge amount of really good work that’s going to be on display,” Layne said. “It’s going to be its own little masterpiece. You’ll look at one and get all the details on that one, but the next one’s going to have just as many details to hold your attention to see how they did it.

“We don’t just do the basics of art, we don’t just have them create projects that they take home,” he continued. “I like to think of it as a way that captures who they are at this point in their lives. Some of the kids do self-portraits, and if they keep it and their parents frame it, they can look at it 20 years from now and say, ‘that’s how it was when I was 13, that’s how it was when I was in middle school.’

“Whether we’re drawing or sculpting, their projects capture their interests, their personalities,” he said. “I think that’s very interesting, and watching that change over the years has been kind of neat.”

Layne said when he began teaching art all of his students wanted to do projects featuring Bart Simpson, and later they wanted to do Spongebob Squarepants.

“Betty Boop has made a comeback, and this year it’s been Sesame Street,” he said. “I’ve got Cookie Monster and Oscar and several Elmos.

“For the first time ever I’ve had ‘Wizard of Oz,’” he added. “After all these years of teaching someone’s finally done ‘Wizard of Oz’ characters.”

Greenbacker said she particularly likes the projects that aren’t of famous characters.

“They show something they’re interested in, like football players, basketball players, baseball players, soccer players, dancers or golfers,” she said.

“I haven’t gotten as many sports figures or musicians this time as I normally get,” Layne said. “And that’s fine because I would like for these sculptures to show some kind of movement or some kind of action.”

Everyone is invited to the Halifax County Middle School Art Show Thursday in the school lobby and cafeteria. Admission is free of charge, and light refreshments will be available.

“Come see what the children have been doing,” Greenbacker said. “They’re going to shine.”