JERSEY SHORE - The Jersey Shore Area School District will hold its sixth annual "All-District Art Show" from April 28 through May 5 at the school district's Administration Building, 175 A&P Drive. An opening reception will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. April 28 at the Administration Building.
Bobbie Dwyer is an art teacher at Jersey Shore Area High School. She is one of five art teachers who are responsible for organizing the "All-District Art Show," which will display work from each of the district's six schools.
"There will be art from all of the schools in the Jersey Shore Area School District," Dwyer said. "That includes the four elementary schools: Nippenose Valley, Salladasburg, Avis and Jersey Shore; as well as the Jersey Shore Middle School and High School. Of course, you can't display every student's artwork, but we try to have between 30 and 40 pieces from each school. It's a big undertaking."
According to Dwyer, there will be a wide variety of artistic mediums on display. "The exhibition includes drawing, painting, ceramics, glass arts, fiber arts, mixed-media, multicultural art and recycled art. The public will see a range of different artwork."
This range of mediums is due in large part to Jersey Shore's rich and diverse art curriculum. "Our art department in all the schools is pretty broad-based," Dwyer explained. "The students have the opportunity to select courses that really give them a variety of creative experiences. Along with the traditional forms of art education, we really have a big selection. It gives the students an opportunity to branch out."
In terms of Dwyer's own teaching, she covers a wide selection of art classes every year. "I teach seven or eight different things during the course of the school year. Right now, I'm teaching a sculpture class, a mixed-media class, a paper studio, a drawing and a fiber arts class. We also have an extensive ceramics and pottery lab. Our department is really very diversified."
Dwyer said her students have been busy preparing work for next week's exhibition. "We put together this art show every year so we collect artwork all year long," she said. "We also display the students' art in the schools year-round and we keep student art displays in the Administration Building all the time. We're big believers in displaying art. By exhibiting art we can exhibit the students' artistic voice. That's how we communicate. Visual communication is a very powerful tool."
Dwyer said this act of communication has become especially important in recent years, when art education has experienced devastating cuts nationwide. "Art curriculums and creative opportunities for students are being limited. When money is scarce, creative education is the first thing to go. We're experiencing less and less in our curriculum all the time. Positions for art and music teachers are being cut in public schools all across the country. Curriculums are getting consolidated everywhere you look. Jersey Shore and Williams-port and a lot of other schools are cutting their art programs. The arts are taking a hit right now. That's why it's so important that we do something like putting together this All-District Art Show. It's really important to promote the arts, especially at this time."
While lamenting the recent cuts in art education, Dwyer stressed the value of creative curriculums. Dwyer, who has taught art classes at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, has witnessed the benefits of art education across all age groups.
"By taking art classes, students have the opportunity to express themselves and develop their creativity using a visual language that can be understood by anybody - either locally or globally," Dwyer said. "Art speaks to everyone. It's about visual, creative development. It spans over all the curriculums, too. People think it's just drawing, but it teaches kids responsibility and patience and problem-solving and collaboration. You see kids really grow when they take art classes."
Dwyer said her students are eager to display their work. "The kids really like it because it gives them an opportunity to reach out to the community. We display art in our schools year-round, but this is actually open to the public. We've had really good attendance in years past and I hope that will remain true this year."
Assessing the talent of the artists who are exhibiting at the art show, Dwyer said that Jersey Shore students have genuine artistic talent. "We have really talented art students at Jersey Shore," Dwyer said. "We have students who have taken art from kindergarten to 12th grade. There are many high school students who say 'I had you as an art teacher in elementary school.' Some pursue art all through their school careers. We have a lot of students who have really developed their talent over the years. We also have some novices who really surprise themselves. You'll see the whole range at the show."
Both the art show and the opening reception are free and open to the public.
For more information, call the JSASD office at 398-1561.