Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Art Fest Shows Student Burst of Creativity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Art Fest Shows Student Burst of Creativity

Article excerpt

Byline: John Carter

She always has her art in the right place.

Barbara Craig is a longtime arts teacher who several years ago started at art festival at Highlands Middle School to deal with her growing frustration over students' lack of exposure to cultural experiences.

The kids couldn't tell a cello from an oboe. The final straw was when one little girl, wide-eyed with excitement over seeing a ballet slipper, said she thought it would be wonderful to see a woman dance in it.

Craig set about writing grant requests and scrounging up enough money -- about $5,000 a fest -- to put on an annual event. It soon grew into a weeklong festival that attracted the surrounding community and students from other schools.

When the Highlands Middle art program was dropped last year, she transferred to J.E.B Stuart Middle School, one of the few schools where she could teach art full time. She soon had the kids drawing and painting and proudly hung the work up all over the school.

She even created an art show called "My Mona Lisa" in which the students created their own versions of the mysteriously smiling icon. They drew African-American Mona Lisas, "pirate" eye-patched Mona Lisas, blonde Mona Lisas, funky Mona Lisas -- any Mona Lisa they wanted. And Craig hung the art work everywhere.

Soon students all over the school wanted to do art. So Craig and her Art Club created a schoolwide contest and will pick three winners from any kind of art work kids want to submit.

And, most of all, she vowed to continue her weeklong art festival.

This one, Spring into the Arts, will feature artists, musicians, craftsmen, storytellers and lots more. Art done by Craig's students is exhibited all over the school as part of the fest.

It's set for Monday through Friday, May 5, at J.E.B. Stuart Middle School, 4815 Wesconnett Blvd. It's free and the public and students from other schools are invited.

Here's the schedule:

MONDAY

9:25 a.m. - 4 p.m. in the media center -- Meet Ben Franklin. Storyteller Art Yeaman shares historical yarns.

9:25 a.m. - 4 p.m., art room -- calligraphy workshop

9:30 -10 a.m, cafeteria -- S.P. Livingston Elementary School Chorus

TUESDAY

9:20 a. …

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