District 11 students explore their artistic side

by Eric Hagen
Staff Writer

Evan McNair loves everything about art. His mother has bought him drawing books so he could partake in this hobby. He even created his own cartoon character.

Click image to view photo gallery. Photos by Eric Hagen

McNair is a fifth-grade student at University Avenue Elementary School in Blaine. About 300 fifth-graders from all 24 elementary schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District got to explore their artistic creativity during a two-day Art Discovery Day at the Andover YMCA/Community Center.

“It’s really nice for them to have this time, to have 90 minutes to see a project through and develop it and not be rushed. It’s a relaxing and creative environment for them,” said Corinne Carney, a fifth-grade math teacher at Adams Elementary School in Coon Rapids who volunteered to supervise students during the Feb. 8-9 art educational event.

All fifth-graders in the Anoka-Hennepin School District spend one hour each week in art class, according to Ben Lacina, the talent development coordinator who organized this year’s Art Discovery Day. The 300 students participating in Art Discovery Day on either Feb. 8 or Feb. 9 were chosen by their art teachers because they demonstrated a passion or high level of ability for the creation of visual arts.

At Art Discovery Day, these talented students worked for three hours over two 90-minute sessions with a lunch break in between. This meant they got to work three times as long on projects in one day than they would in a week at their own school. They also got to try out materials they normally do not have access to at their regular art classes, Lacina said. The students chose two different mediums to try during the two 90-minute sessions at Art Discovery Day. The choices were creating art trading cards, drawing, painting, puppet making, tunnel book creation, wire sculptures and wood sculptures.

Before going to work, the nine teachers instructed the students on the different art mediums in which they would be participating and showed some examples of what professional artists have done to help the students brainstorm ideas, according to Lacina. Sometimes there were more specific instructions. The task for the painters was to visually show idioms such as “the early bird gets the worm” or “does a cat have your tongue?”

“It’s a fun day because there are no rules except just have fun and let me know if you spill anything,” said Ann Phillippi, a sixth-grade art teacher at the Anoka Middle School for the Arts in Anoka.

Dominic Henderson from Sand Creek Elementary School in Coon Rapids drew a piggy bank, which is an idiom because it came from the idea of saving coins in a pygg jar made of clay or ceramic. Henderson’s inspiration for choosing this idiom came from seeing a good drawing of a piggy bank that his four-year-old sister did.

Jaquelin Hernandez from Hamilton Elementary School in Coon Rapids likes to create unique cartoon characters on her sketch pad at home. Jayden Iverson from Monroe Elementary School in Brooklyn Park loves medieval drawings and dragons. He believes his father was an influence in him becoming interested in this subject because his father does pinstriping art pieces. Tavaria Ford from Evergreen Park World Studies Elementary in Brooklyn Center likes doing anime drawings.

“I like that you can make it your own way. Nobody can tell you to make it a certain way,” Ford said on why she loves to create art.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]