Children's Artwork

University of Wisconsin - River Falls

September 26, 1997

Children's Artwork Selected for Regional Exhibit

by Ellie Walradth
UW-RF News Bureau

Brightly-colored layers of crayon, watercolor wash, tissue paper and tempera paint captured the imaginations of youngsters throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota.

And their creativity with those art objects has led to national recognition and their own art show.

National award-winning artwork from 21 Wisconsin-Minnesota grade school students in kindergarten through sixth grade has been selected to be featured in a regional art exhibit-from a child's perspective.

The honorees were chosen in the Crayola Dream-Makers program sponsonered by Smith & Binney, the makers of Crayola products, to encourage the creative behavior and conceptual development of children through art activities. Held every two years, this year's exhibition theme "Tales to Tell," challenged students to weave words and pictures to illustrate real and imaginary stories.

Four hundred pieces of artwork selected from among hundreds of thousands created by students -with 80 pieces from each of five regions-will travel across the country visiting 15 major universities and art museums over the next six months.

An 80-piece collection representing students in the Central region, which includes 10 states and Manitoba, Canada, will travel to UW-River Falls, one of the chosen host sites. As the only university to collaborate with a community center, the exhibit will be held at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson from April 13-May 10, with an opening set for April 19.

"The exhibit is a wonderful way to put a spotlight on how important art can be as one of the ways children learn and express themselves," says Lynn Jermal, UW-RF art professor and program coordinator for the event. "The exhibit is so beautiful and engaging. It brings up the standards for everyone about arts education."

Willow River and North Hudson Elementary art teacher Dan Girtz agrees. "It is a wonderful show of children's artwork. The artwork is quite large and colorful."

The artwork of one of Girtz's students was chosen to be in the exhibit. Eight-year-old Colton Stanger from Willow River Elementary in Hudson created a pen and water color work titled "The Northern Lights."

Dream-Maker organizers allowed teachers to submit 14 works from each school.

"All of the students' works could be in the show," says Girtz. "It is a wonderful opportunity even for the boys and girls who could not be in the show. The activities they did were very colorful and imaginative."

As part of the Dream-Makers program, teachers were provided hands-on activities in a resource guide designed to stimulate students' imaginations.

Girtz had his classes engage in several of these activities. Stanger's creation was the result of an exercise in which students created a setting for a real or imaginary character.

From St. Croix Elementary in Roberts, the artworks of three students were chosen for the exhibit: "The Cat" by Kye Lee Leonard, age 9; "Birds" by Jacob Rock, age 6; and "Z-2 B-2" by Caitlin Skaalrud, age 8.

Their art teacher, Mary Onkka, says that being honored is very exciting for the kids, but adds that she does not see the program as a competition.

"It (the Dream-Makers program) is not so much a contest but more about celebrating the unique imagination of children."

Each young artist is awarded a plaque featuring a photograph of the student's artwork selected for exhibit. Student honorees will also be recognized at the regional exhibition opening.

With each piece of artwork submitted, students were required to write an accompanying dream statement and title their works.

Sixth-grade honoree Elizabeth Kingren from Farmington Middle School in Farmington, Minn., titled her creation "Little Indian Princess." According to Suzanne Stout, Kingren's art teacher, the Native American portrait was created with a watercolor wash and crayons.

Stout believes the Dream-Makers program acts as a learning tool for daily life. "Students get to learn that you have to make art that holds a viewer's attention. And having to write about their artwork helps them learn how to express themselves," Stout says.

Living in River Falls, Stout will help Jermal prepare for the April exhibit.

Jermal is coordinating parallel programs and collateral events such as art classes and workshops to involve students and adults during the exhibit.

"UW-RF sponsored the Dream-Makers exhibit in 1994, and it was very successful. Exhibit organizers thought it was one of the best national exhibits. I am eager to have us sponsor the exhibit again."

Among the artworks of other Wisconsin-Minnesota honorees are: "Life and Civilization" by Clare Harmon, 11, from East Elementary School in New Richmond; "Babysitting" by Kellie Lund, 9, from Viking Middle School in Woodville; "Ship to Shore" by Adam Goldberg, 11, and "The Ocean Floor" by Aaron Scofield, 9, both from Maple Dale School in Milwaukee; "The Mountain" by Jonathon Klug, 12, from Riverside Middle School in Watertown; "Me in My Room" by Katlyn Nelson, 8, from Black Earth Elementary in Black Earth; "Sunflower Blossom" by Lauren O'Connor, 8, "Maddie" by Madeline Shovers, 6, and "Dream Dance" by Megan Yee, 8, from Indian Hill School in Milwaukee; "The Forest Lion" by Korey Stark, 10, and "Self-Portrait" by Erin Theder, 7, both from Schurz Elementary School in Watertown; "Wheels" by Kyler Swamp, 6, from Concord Center Elementary in Sullivan; "White Tiger" by Courtney Sullivan, 7, and "The Dreaming Turtle" by Robyn Thaney, 9, both from Douglas Elementary School in Watertown; "Mirror Image" by Allison Yanke, 12, from Kewaskum Middle School in Kewaskum; and "Mom" by Benjamin Schrank, 7, from Eisenhower Elementary in Wauwatosa.

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