As they entered the gymnasiums at Duniway Elementary School on the evening of April 27th, family members and guests looked mesmerized - confronted with a dazzling vista of about 1,400 student works of art on display. It was the annual Duniway School Student Art Show.
'It's just a fraction of what artworks the students have done,' explained Diane Avenoso, Co-Chair of the Duniway Applied Arts Program at the 'gallery opening night'.
'Each student has a portfolio of about ten pieces of art, based upon the different lessons during the year. The pieces on display here are chosen by the artist; one the faculty feel might actually be a stronger piece doesn't necessarily get into the art show.'
The Duniway art program, teaching primarily visual arts, has been in place for 20 years. 'It's 100% volunteer run, and funded by our PTA,' pointed out Co-Chair Francine Staczek. 'About 150 volunteers - parents, grandparents and friends of people who believe in the fine arts - all have become involved in the program. Parents created lesson plans so the students get a foundation in the masters, like van Gogh, Rembrandt, Matisse, and Monet.'
Kindergartners start out learning about composition and color theory. 'By the time they're in fifth grade, they're learning more complex issues about composition, and some of the sophisticated techniques about why these masters were revolutionary in their thinking about how they made art,' said Avenoso.
In addition to giving students a more rounded education - by including the study of visual arts - there are other benefits, the Co-Chairs agree.
'Some students who are a little less sure of themselves - in the art room, we see them become totally confident and empowered,' observed Avenoso.
'Art is very important for kids on a very basic level,' Staczek added. 'It's amazing! Kids who can't express themselves in other ways, can really shine in art.'