Ann Arbor’s downtown is already a colorful place to stroll.
But just in time for spring, the talented students of Ann Arbor Public Schools have made it that much more interesting.
Youth Art Month (YAM) is an annual observance held each March across the country to emphasize the value of art and art education for all children and to encourage public support for quality school art programs.
Held in Ann Arbor for more than 30 years, it’s a collaboration between the AAPS Art Departments and the Ann Arbor Main Street Area Association, whose merchants exhibit the students’ work in their windows in March.
“I love the YAM show because its a great way to publicly exhibit and celebrate some of the amazing student work produced in our outstanding Ann Arbor Public Schools art programs,” said Huron High School art teacher Jonathan Smigell, who chairs the event for the district.
Community High School art teachers Steve Coron and Elena Flores said
“This is our time to shine throughout the whole city,” said Coron. “It’s a time for us to get the work out of the schools and out into the community. And then we have a culminating event where students and families are invited downtown to look at the art; to come together and just celebrate the arts.”
That closing reception will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 29 at The Ark. There will be light refreshments, music performances, and a speech by Superintendent Jeanice Swift. Following the reception, the student artists will participate in an “art walk” downtown with their families and friends to view their work, which is mostly on Main Street.
“This is the final point in the whole artistic process for them,” Coron said. “They spend so much time in school, in their studios, in their art rooms with their teachers making things, and then some of them never see it anywhere else other than their home. This is like the ultimate validation of their efforts, to see, `Ooh! It looks good. It’s in the window. And a lot of people are looking at it.’ It completes that artistic process for them in a nice way.”
Every school in the district is represented in Youth Art Month, and about 40 art teachers each selected about 20 pieces for the show.
Elena Flores said YAW gives notice to the entire community that AAPS has a vibrant, successful arts program.
“Though we’ve had lots of cuts and so forth, it really shows the perseverance of our staff—teachers as the talent that’s out there, and it’s really about creative thinking and ideas,” she said. “That’s what we do. We encourage the kids to come up with novel, creative, innovative ideas. And how they exhibit that is limitless.”
CHS junior Alex Spranger has two photography pieces hanging at the WSG Gallery. He fell in love with photography at the age of eight, and is happy his work was chosen for the show.
“It means to me that other people can appreciate my work, and I can get my work out there,” he said. “I look forward to that.”
The work of Haisley students is displayed in the window of Conor O’Neill’s
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