Wild jungle critters – in the forms of papier-mache, squeeze-bottle art, cotton balls and even thumbprints – are crowding the Lincoln Cultural Center with color at the Jungle Jamboree Art Show.
Through Feb. 28, the show will exhibit artwork created by students at A Place to Grow, a Lincolnton preschool that provides developmental day services.
The Arts Council of Lincoln County is hosting the exhibit in the Carolina Mills and Cochrane Galleries of the Lincoln Cultural Center. A silent auction for the students’ collaborative artwork – featuring pieces with names like “The Wild Rumpus” and “Rumble in the Jungle” – will continue until Feb. 28.
The exhibit covers the two galleries, floor-to-ceiling, with a vibrant and creative display, said Arts Council Executive Director of Laurie Bostian.
“It’s the imagination at that age – there’s no limit,” said Bostian. “You can see the love of the art, just the creation of it … just to hear them talk about it – they light up.
This year, the silent auction will raise money for the preschool’s playground improvements: repairing a foam surface to accommodate wheelchairs and anyone with difficulty walking, as well as buying more equipment geared for children with special needs.
“We’re trying to make it more special needs-friendly … so it’s a more inclusive place,” said Densie Machuga, program director of A Place to Grow.
A Place to Grow serves 49 students, ages 1-5, all of whom had a hand – or thumbprint – in the Jungle Jamboree Art Show. The preschool promotes skill development in areas such as self-help, fine and gross motor skills, language and communication, and cognitive and social skills, in cooperation with Partners Behavioral Health Management and Lincoln County Schools.
“We serve students with and without special needs, so that they can model off each other,” said Machuga.
Preschool enrollment is through private pay or vouchers. Machuga said the teachers all have four-year degrees.
“We just have a lot of expertise, and we’re able to identify delays in development,” said Machuga.”
Art, Machuga said, can provide an important outlet for the students.
“Some of our students don’t communicate verbally, so through their artwork, they’re able to communicate something that’s easy to express,” Machuga said.
Bostian pointed to the universal value of creative projects.
“No matter what your age … right-brain development is so important,” said Bostian. “It’s what helps children as people become better with problem-solving.”
All of the students benefit from working on the big collaborative pieces with their peers, and from the sheer joy of creating and seeing their work on display, according to Machuga.
“I don’t know if there’s any of our children that don’t like to pick up a paintbrush,” said Machuga.
“They get so excited seeing their little pieces here, and their little pieces there.”
Since 1999, A Place to Grow has partnered with the Arts Council to host the annual art show.
The project received support from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The exhibit helps the Arts Council carry out its mission of developing, promoting and nurturing art, explained Pam Caudle, vice president of Arts Council’s board.
“We promote all arts, but especially arts in our children, because they are our future,” said Caudle.
Julia Sendor is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Julia? Email her at email@example.com.
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