GREENVILLE — The Anna Bier Gallery presented its first Darke County K-6 Elementary Art Exhibit Sunday at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall. The exhibit, organized by the Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA), kicked off with an Open House event in which first, second, and third-place winners from all participating grade levels were chosen and presented with ribbons and cash prizes.
Art teachers from Greenville, Versailles, and Bradford Elementary Schools, as well as DeColores Montessori, St. Mary’s School and the local Home School community, were invited to submit work created by their students. Ultimately over 90 works of art were chosen for the exhibition, which runs until March 29.
“I chose to let the art teachers decide which work to submit because I wanted that variety across the board,” Anna Bier Gallery director Tamera McNulty said Sunday. “It makes me think of a snowflake – that’s what’s so beautiful about art. Every piece is unique.”
Art instructors at various schools challenged their kids with themed projects, including an assignment to imitate a famous painting by artist Claude Monet; a fall-themed collection featuring images of leaves and scarecrows; and a “Make Your Own Monster” competition in which students drew imaginary beasts.
“I feel like this is where it begins: with the kids,” McNulty said. “When we can introduce art to kids at such a young age, and they can see the process of imagining something and then creating it.”
McNulty said she was passionate about nurturing younger artists in the community.
“I love kids, and I love kids’ artwork,” McNulty said. “This is the exhibit that I’ve been most excited about.”
Prize winners were chosen by a jury of volunteers.
“I would not have wanted to judge this, because I couldn’t have done it,” McNulty said. “I love all our pieces. I appreciate the ones with vibrant colors, but then I also love the black and whites, with that high contrast.”
The winner of the Best in Show award for the exhibit, in fact, was a black-and-white piece by a home-schooled third-grader named Anna Cox titled “Hummingbird Lunch.”
“Anna is an extremely talented young artist,” McNulty said. “She has a very distinct style that’s extraordinary for a girl her age. She’s going places.”
Sponsors for the event include the Ami McClurkin Community Fund, the Darke County Foundation, Thomas H. Graber II and the Ketrow Foundation, and Steve and Eileen Litchfield. Small businesses such as Granny’s Corner Frame Shop and Rapid Printing also helped make the exhibit a reality.
“We definitely want to thank our sponsors, as well as all the art teachers and supportive parents who continue to inspire the children,” McNulty said.
McNulty and DCCA have other projects in the works, including a high school art exhibit set to begin in May, as well as plans for a potential summer art camp open to elementary school kids. Most of all, however, McNulty hopes the success of this year’s exhibit will encourage more people to become involved in the future.
“We had an amazing turnout,” said McNulty. “And I hope the word of mouth will inspire those who weren’t able to participate to do it next year.”
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