Crawford gallery combines student artwork, community pieces
Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Monday, March 04, 2013
Art instructor Adam Craft beamed as he ushered visitors into Crawford Middle School’s new gallery during the Feb. 28 grand opening.
“It’s an actual gallery – a little one-room walk-in gallery,” he said. “It was designed along the lines of a normal gallery, with gallery-approved fixtures and gallery-quality work. Mr. Jones and the administration were gracious enough to give me dedicated space and allowed me to bring part of the community and the arts into our school in a way the kids have not perhaps had the opportunity to experience before.”
Tucked in the former bookstore space near the front office, the gallery also is designated a “supporting venue” in LexArts’ Gallery Hop network. It will be open on Gallery Hop nights, though the traditional, downtown galleries likely will pull in the most foot traffic.
“The first year we may not get anybody here, but as word goes out, who knows what might happen?” Craft said optimistically.
The school gallery currently contains seven pieces created by Crawford students, a few pen-and-ink and charcoal-and-pencil works from a Morehead State artist whom Craft knows, and several submissions from Crawford staff and extended family.
The large portrait of a child at various ages was painted by a teacher’s mother, the collection of walking sticks was hand-carved by a student’s father, and the pair of wooden flutes was crafted by a long-term substitute teacher. The student work ranges from a papier-mache spider mask to acrylic on canvas. Craft also contributed several of his wood etchings with ink and a pencil drawing.
“I love how it came together and became an actual gallery. It’s the whole effect,” said Craft, who set up table lamps and muted the overhead fluorescent lights. “I wanted to show as wide a variety as possible, but I’d like a bit more sculpture,” he added.
Paula Pitcock, a math intervention teacher, already brought in two painted plates and a bowl along with a quilt wall hanging. “I was really excited to give him the quilt,” she said. “My pottery -- I made him swear it would not get broken!”
Principal Mike Jones praised Craft’s vision and initiative.
“I’m very proud of the artwork from our students and the guidance and leadership Mr. Craft gives,” said Jones, who mentioned that dozens of students stay after school on Fridays for art club. “Art is what your creative juices allow you to do. Long-term, this gallery will help push our students to be more creative and really let them show off what they can do.”
Along with the metal wall hangers, Jones hopes to add presentation easels, stands and art tables as the space evolves. He also sees the potential for schoolwide use in multiple classes as Crawford moves toward more project-based learning, with students’ work on display in regular rotations.
“Math classes could go and look at the pieces and analyze them for geometrical shapes or angles or scale,” Pitcock said. “Language arts classes could write about the setting of a picture or maybe the history of one of the carved walking sticks.”
Craft is excited about the prospects not only for Crawford’s curriculum but also for community interaction.
“As an educator, I would encourage other schools to do what Crawford has done – to bring part of the outside world of art and inspiration into students’ lives. Not a lot of middle school kids get a view of what it’s like outside the building with art. I hope our gallery will introduce the outside art world in a way they haven’t seen yet,” he said. “The outlook is to take those artists and really walk students through how a gallery works and how the exchange works with money and how it’s a specific job market. I’m trying to get them to see there’s a livelihood – it’s not just something you do between gym and math.”