Winecoff students exhibit art savvy

The artwork of two students at Winecoff Elementary School in Concord has garnered state and national attention.

Fourth-grader Ananda Laub’s “The Lovely Turtle” was selected to be featured in the N.C. General Assembly Youth Art Exhibition. The Kannapolis resident’s work is one of 14 pieces throughout the state that will be on display in the north lobby of the state Legislative Building in Raleigh.

First-grader Justin Hartsell was the national winner in the Young Masters Art Competition for students in grades K-2. Young Masters – a national franchise that showcases children’s artwork through keepsakes – hosted a recognition ceremony for him March 30 at the school. His prize package included a $500 check for the school’s art program.

Aimee Mills, the students’ art teacher, submitted Laub’s artwork for consideration in the exhibit, which is co-sponsored by the General Assembly and the N.C. Art Education Association.

The year-long exhibit’s goal is to share with legislators and visitors the creative ability of North Carolina’s students in grades K-12. An opening reception at the House Representatives will be in May.

Mills also is the state chair for Youth Art Month for the NCAEA. In March, she and Concord Mayor Scott Padgett signed a proclamation that officially declared March as Youth Art Month in Concord.

Mills said Youth Art Month emphasizes the value of art and art education for children and encourages public support for school art programs. The proclamation was on display throughout March at the Cabarrus County Schools Youth Art Month exhibit in the education center. Cabarrus County Schools’ student artists and their teachers were honored at a reception March 25.

“I am ecstatic that my students’ artistic accomplishments are being recognized on the state and national level,” said Mills. “It’s wonderful that they are being acknowledged for their outstanding ability in art. They have certainly made their families and Winecoff Elementary School very proud.”

About the artwork

Ananda created her artwork with construction paper and markers after studying a unit in class about the native Kuna people of Panama. Students learned about the indigenous people of the San Blas region and how they sew molas – a colorful fabric panel of Central American origin used for decorative purposes – using traditional methods handed down for generations.

Using contemporary Kuna themes as inspiration for their artwork, students integrated geometric patterns into their cut-paper collage compositions to create abstract designs of flowers, animals and birds.

“I thought it was cool learning about the Kuna Indians and their traditions,” said Ananda. “I really enjoyed making a cut-paper mola, because I used all my favorite colors, and it shows that anything can be pretty if you just look close enough – even turtles. My favorite part was drawing the stitches around the perimeter of each shape.”

Justin’s artwork was part of unit about famed American landscape artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Widely known for her large closeup paintings of flowers, O’Keefe also opened a door through her artwork for students to learn about plant anatomy.

After a practice sketch, students fine-tuned their flowers and colored them with markers, watercolor pencils and paint. Mills entered his piece to be judged in the K-2 category.

Justin took home the national honor with his rendition of bold orange and yellow flowers against a violet background.

“He incorporated the science elements and utilized all parts of the flower from the stamen to the petals and stems and leaves,” said Mills. “And he had two lady bugs crawling up the stems of his flowers.”

Justin said it was neat to be recognized, but he and his family weren’t necessarily bowled over by the news.

“When I contacted his mom, she said she wasn’t that surprised, because he excels at everything, from academics to athletics,” said Mills. “When I asked Justin if he was surprised, he simply said, ‘No, because I’m an awesome artist.’ “