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Local teachers show off their art work

New exhibition runs till the end of December

Local teachers are displaying their art in a new exhibition at the Civic & Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) in Pineville.

The free CCAC art exhibition is open from 6-8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and select Saturdays.

Visitors should call 704-609-0025 to schedule visits. The show will be open through Dec. 1 in Pineville and then move to the lobby of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, where it will be on display through Dec. 31.

“This is a great experience to show our students that we are not just instructors and teachers but we also produce art,” said Ashley Graham, an art and ceramics teacher at South Mecklenburg High School. “It’s a chance for us to narrow our focus. We teach and have to be creative all day, so it’s often hard for us to step back and produce our own art.”

Students were inspired by their teachers’ work.

“I love the atmosphere; there’s a lot of great art pieces here,” said Ben Evans, a junior at South Mecklenburg High School, who plans to go to an art school after high school.

South Mecklenburg High School ceramics and art teacher Ellen Estes has exhibited her sculpture and paintings in the show for the past four years. Her paintings were completed during the summer as part of a grant she received through the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Estes is also exhibiting some of her recent work at the Charlotte Art Institute.

Alexis Arnold and her husband, Scott Ewing brought their two children, Abby, 3, and Sam, 2, to the opening night reception. She came to the exhibit to see the work of Estes, whom she had as an art teacher several years ago.

“It’s important for the community to have art,” said Arnold. “Everyone needs to have some kind of beauty or expression of culture that you can’t find in your own little world.”

With few venues available for teachers to exhibit their work, Lee Baumgarten, CCAC executive director, said there is a need to offer opportunities to showcase educators’ art.

“There’s definitely a need in this area and we wanted to change that and offer the potential for growth,” said Baumgarten.

With the support from some sponsors, Baumgarten said he was able to offer prizes this year for the first time.

Winners included: Dianne Mahaffee, “Pot Creating Self,” Best in Show; Joann McDaniel, “Carlos,” First Place; Laura Fox-Wallis, “Squid Army,” Second Place; Mahdi Sharifi, “Lady in Red,” Third Place. Honorable mentions included: Abbey Fernengel, “Beta Fish;” Monique Luck, untitled; Ellen Estes, “In the Box,” and Ashley Graham, “Discrepancy.”

The show was judged by Tiffany Capers, a local artist, formerly with the Foundation for the Carolinas, who now manages the Teach for America office in Charlotte.

Carol Gifford is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Carol? Email her at bloomgiff@comcast.net.
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