SCHOOL COLORS: Annual art show exhibits students’ creativity

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GREENFIELD — A gymnasium at Greenfield Central Junior High School is packed with paintings, sculptures and other student-made works of art from all four of Hancock County’s school districts.

It’s the annual Hancock County Art Educators Art Show. For 33 years now, the exhibition has allowed students in grades K-12 to take pride in their talents and visitors to take in the impact of local art curriculum.

Along with paintings and sculptures, the show also features drawings, pottery, stained glass, jewelry and silver work, said Jeff Weiland, Greenfield-Central High School art teacher and art department chair.

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Dozens of students from the classes of about two dozen Hancock County art teachers are participating, Weiland said. The junior high gym is divided into four sections representing Eastern Hancock, Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon and Southern Hancock school corporations. In the middle are works by each high school’s Senior Award winners, who were chosen by their teachers. Each will earn a cash prize drawn from funds raised by the show’s silent auction and raffle offering works that the schools’ art teachers contributed.

“We have basketball teams and football teams and all this other stuff, plays, musicals, music concerts,” Weiland said. “This is a way for the art students to show, ‘This is what I’ve accomplished this year.’”

It’s a feeling shared across grades and ages, he continued.

“Whether they’re in kindergarten at 5 years old or they’re a high school senior at 18 ready to graduate, everybody likes that sense of accomplishment,” Weiland said. “It’s really fun to stand back and watch the kids drag Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa through the art show looking for their piece of artwork.”

The show also gives the community the opportunity to see what their schools’ art students have been learning and contribute to the strength of the county’s growing arts communities, Weiland said. Students get to see what their contemporaries across the county are up to as well, he added.

Mae Griffin, whose paintings are in the show, is Greenfield-Central High School’s Senior Award Winner.

“She’s just outstanding,” Weiland said.

One of her works depicts the wildfires that burned near Yosemite National Park in California last year. Griffin said it was inspired by her interest in current events and passion for the environment.

“I think it’s the most pressing issue in our world today,” she said. “It determines the future of generations to come, and we’re not really doing a lot to deal with it right now.”

Acrylic paint is Griffin’s go-to medium, but she dabbles in oil painting as well. She said she enjoys figuring out the tricks for each, which have their own challenges. Oil paints, for instance, are thicker and allow for more detail, she said, but require more patience and take longer to dry.

Griffin said she admires another one of her paintings in the show for the heavy contrast between its green statue and red-pink background.

“A lot of people think it’s a digital print when they see it because it’s so realistic,” said Lisa Sears, an art teacher at Greenfield-Central High School.

Sears said Griffin excels at photography as well, adding she sold a piece at an art show in downtown Greenfield earlier this year.

Griffin said she got her start in art about four to five years ago. She credits drawing in an eighth-grade art class with sparking her interest.

“I find it to be a challenge,” she said of creating art. “I like to do the whole observation aspect of it and see what new details I can find and then challenge myself to try and make them.”

John Reifel, an art teacher at Fortville Elementary School, said art teaches skills like creativity and thinking outside the box, which allow students to excel in other areas of study.

He’s all for STEM — the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. But he prefers STEAM — with an added ‘A’ for art.

“I think one of the most important things is to keep that whole creative side of the brain working,” Reifel said.

Perhaps the greatest example of that blend was Leonardo da Vinci, Reifel continued, whose knowledge spanned across sciences such as engineering and anatomy to the arts.

“We’ve got to stimulate that growth in our students,” Reifel said.

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WHAT: Hancock County Art Educators Art Show

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Friday; special recognition of Senior Award winners at 6 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Greenfield-Central Junior High School, 1440 N. Franklin St., Greenfield

Free and open to the public

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Works by these top art students will be on display in a prominent area of the show.

Aidan Campbell – New Palestine High School

Elizabeth Cape – Eastern Hancock High School

Mae Griffin – Greenfield-Central High School

Elisabeth Salinas – Mt. Vernon High School

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