MONTROSE – Art classes help kids learn better. For example, learning origami makes geometry easier to understand, says Montrose High art teacher Ann Marie Fleming. Art also helps kids with develop fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and intuitive thinking, she said, and so much more.
Art teaches kids to analyze a problem and figure out how to fix it, while also learning the foundations, like the dimensions of the human head or how to approach a still life, she said.
“In art, kids learn investigation, communicating their ideas and forming opinions,” Fleming said. “And the kid who can’t write what he thinks can often express it visually.”
With 11 art teachers from kindergarten through high school, Montrose has a strong art program, and it goes on display next month, with the third annual Montrose School District Art Show at the Enterprise Center at 300 N. Cascade Ave. The show will run April 19-29 on the walls and hallways of the building renovated by Region 10 in recent years.
Fleming said that 500 works of art by students in the district’s six elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools represent the art programs’ 6,311 students.
The public is welcome to view the exhibit, where two-dimensional works will be hung along the walls and three-dimensional works will be on sculpture stands throughout the building, which has several wings off the main entrance hallway.
Art is not frivolous, Fleming said, and the district was fortunate to have George Voorhis as superintendent for the past 10 years. Voorhis retires at the end of the spring semester.
“We are very lucky to have had a superintendent who supports the arts, when so many are dropping programs,” she said. Voorhis, she added, was an art major.
Fleming says there are plenty of studies demonstrating that art is not only essential in ensuring a well-rounded education, but that it actually helps students in other subjects.
A study in 2008 by the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Council on the Arts revealed that public high schools offering more arts education have higher academic achievement, regardless of student ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
The survey data associated arts education with higher scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program in reading, writing and science – and lower dropout rates.
All kinds of media will be used in the show, including pen and ink, watercolor, colored pencil, graphite, acrylics, oils and collage, as well as sculptures that include ceramics.
Fleming said she hopes that people in the community will come see the artworks, because they’ll be able to see the progression from kindergarten through high school, where a few seniors have decided to carry their studies on to college.
Seniors Ashley Aragon and Shelby Rocha both plan to major in art at Mesa State, Fleming said, with a few more thinking about it, like Joe Vigil, Khristian Gilhan and Charity Borner.
One of Borner’s works, a crane in pin and ink, colored pencil and graphite, will highlight the exhibit, as will works by the others.
As she rummaged through stacks of drawings in the Montrose High art room, Fleming pulled out another piece that Borner is working on, an image of two women facing each other, with their hair flowing out toward the edges. It will be a large linoleum block print, and Borner is slowly and carefully carving out strands of hair and details of each face in the uncompleted piece.
“Charity does a lot of thinking, and is able to block out what’s going on the classroom,” Fleming said.
That’s what art does for students, but Fleming also teaches them to think about how advertisers can manipulate the foundations of art to sell products.
Fleming has been teaching art for more than 12 years. Other middle and high school art teachers are Jayna Rosentreter, Heather Jennings, Linda McMenamy, Carol Soderquist, Chad Morris and Stephen Motley. Elementary art teachers, some working at more than one school, are Elvira Butler, Kelley Roby, Mike Medina and Rebecca Smith.
After the show closes, the artwork won’t go immediately back to the kids, Fleming said, because she had a request for the Montrose Visual Arts Guild to include them in a September Show, and the Montrose Fair Board would like to use them this summer.
This is the one time of the year that the talents of art students are recognized, Fleming said, while other areas, especially sports as well as music, get a lot more attention and public notice year-round, so she hopes the public will come and see the show.
“Art seems to happen in the quiet spaces of the schools,” she said.