Creative community

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Student artwork on display throughout town during Youth Art Month

By Ann Marie Shambaugh

It’s not unusual to see student artwork on display in the hallways at local schools, but this month the entire community will get the opportunity to view the creativity of Zionsville’s youngest aspiring artists at dozens of businesses on or near Main Street.

During Youth Art Month, more than 30 businesses and organizations will display a variety of work created by Zionsville Community Schools students of all ages throughout the school year.

“Art is important and necessary in public education,” said Sarah Zack, ZCS district coordinator for Youth Art  Month and an art teacher at Eagle Elementary. “We bring Youth Art Month to our community each March to showcase our students’ talents and hard work, increase community understanding and interest in art, and provide additional opportunities for individuals to participate in creative activities.”

Flynn Mixdorf, a senior at Zionsville Community High School, will be among the 350 students whose work will be on display during Youth Art Month. He enjoys painting with oil and is currently taking a second level ceramics class at ZCHS. He is eager for the community to have a chance to see the hard work put in by student artists this year.

“It’s great for young artists to have their work put on display, because it just makes you feel like you’ve really accomplished something when you see total strangers walking past your own display and stopping for even  just a split second to take a closer look,” said Mixdorf, 18. “It’s really a great feeling to be involved in an art show, and it gives you the opportunity to see a lot of other people’s work on display, which is always a great inspiration.”

The beginning

Communities across the country have been celebrating Youth Art Month for more than 50 years. The program was launched by the Art & Creative Materials Institute and the National Art Education Association in 1961 as Children’s Art Month. It became known as Youth Art Month in 1969 after organizers began including art created by secondary school students in the exhibitions.

Youth Art Month first came to Zionsville in 2011 when the Zionsville Fine Arts Department decided to showcase the importance of art education in public schools. Support for the program from the business community has continued to grow throughout the years.

ReStyled, a shop that specializes in restoring furniture, is not only displaying student art this month but will also host three free art classes open to the community. The Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Library will also offer free art classes on Saturday mornings throughout March.

Connie Odekirk, who founded ReStyled with her daughter-in-law, said that getting involved with Youth Art Month made perfect sense for her business.

“It’s important for school age kids starting from kindergarten all the way up to be exposed to art to understand the influence of art and the creativity of it,” she said.

The organizers, teachers and students who participate in Youth Art Month are grateful for the support from local businesses and the opportunities it provides.

“The students get really excited when their work is on display and take a lot of pride in knowing that anyone in the community can view their artwork,” said Grace Fletcher, art department chair at ZCHS.

‘These kids are capable’

Jocelyn Swan, an eighth grader at Zionsville West Middle School, has experienced the value of art firsthand this school year as a recent surgery sidelined her from the sports field. She’s found her art class to be “therapeutic” and has learned to appreciate the ways a creative outlet helps many of her peers find their voice. She believes Youth Art Month is important because it shows adults the creative power and potential of the next generation.

“Sometimes I feel like we’re underestimated, [that people think]we’re just kids playing around on their phones all day,” said Swan, 13. “The community can realize we’re not in bad hands and that these kids are capable.”

Fletcher sees proof of that every day in the classroom and is excited that the entire community will have the chance to check out the talents of Zionsville’s young artists this month.

“Many times our students are not recognized for their accomplishments in art due to the limited audience that is reached through school displays or social media,” she said. “For many students, the art classroom is the only place they feel comfortable expressing themselves. By submersing the community in art, it allows us to draw more attention to an important area of education.”

Youth Art Month events

First Friday Reception

The Youth Art Month First Friday Reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. March 6 at Robert Goodman Jewelers and the SullivanMunce Cultural Center. The reception is open to the public.

Free classes at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library

Register at www.zionsville.lib.in.us.

March 7: SullivanMunce presents “Discover Pablo Picasso” from 1 to 2:30 p.m. for ages 7 and older.

March 14: Zionsville Fine Arts department presents “Georgia O’Keefe Multi-media Painting” from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. for grades 3 to 5.

March 21: My Art presents “Blue Dog Art” from 11 a.m. to noon for grades K to 6.

March 28: A Space to Create presents “Kadinsky” from 11 a.m. to noon for ages 5 and older.

Free classes at ReStyled Shop

To reserve a spot call 317-973-5722

March 4: “Mommy and Me” class from 4 to 5 p.m. for grades K to 4.

March 11: “Personal Signs” from 4 to 5 p.m. for grades 5 to 8.

March 18: “Paint Your Shoes or Purse” from 4 to 5 p.m. for grades 9 to 12.


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