“Blooming Artists” exhibit brings learning to life

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center will host a free opening reception for “Blooming Artists,” an exhibit of elementary student artwork from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The exhibition showcases the artwork of over 275 students, providing an exploration of the world of insects, pollination, habitat, plants and soil regeneration through the eyes and art of the community’s youngest learners.

“Blooming Artists” will be on display through June 25. The gallery at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

This exhibit represents the culmination of a year of arts, science and garden integrated learning with pre-K through third grade students within the Port Angeles School District (PASD).

This is the second year of the project, which was made possible by a Creative Start Grant from the Washington State Arts Commission awarded to the Port Angeles School District.

Through this program, art center staff have partnered with teachers, volunteers, PASD Native American Liaisons and WSU extension staff “to provide project-based education that integrates art, science, playful movement, story and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) while also deepening students’ connection to the natural world,” organizers said.

”Connections to each schools’ garden program allow students to get hands-on learning about plants, soil and composting.”

New this year is the groundwork to increase cultural relevance in school gardens by folding in Since Time Immemorial curriculum concepts into the lesson plans with support from Port Angeles School District Native American Liaison Carmen Watson Charles and the Klallam Language Department, organizers said.

“Port Angeles Fine Arts Center is proud to support the school district in furthering their efforts to provide arts integrated learning in our schools,” said Christine Loewe, executive director of the fine arts center who also volunteers with the school district garden.

The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center plays a crucial role in supporting this initiative by providing expertise in integrating art education curriculum and aligning Washington state science and art learning standards, organizers said.

The Youth Education Director at the Fine Arts Center, Mandy Miller, serves as the primary coordinator, offering integrated lessons at the participating elementary schools.

Thirteen teachers from three schools across the district have participated in the program and 45 classes have been offered throughout the school year generating arts integrated education in the classrooms.

Teaching artists Ariel Zimman, Steve Belz, MarySue French and Sarah Hurt also will have samples of their artwork on display and for sale in the exhibition.

“Whether they are looking at invertebrates from the compost, pulling apart bean seeds to discover a young plant inside or trying to figure out a seed dispersal method, the students in the Creative Start program have shown me that they are ready and excited to learn all about the natural world,” said Mandy Miller, youth education director.

”These students have also taught me that their creativity is infinite when creating works that reflect the science they have learned,” Miller added. “It’s fun to watch them be open to learning a variety of new skills using an array of mediums,”

Lead partners for “Blooming Artists” and the year-long project include: Washington State University Clallam County extension, Port Angeles School District Native American Liason Carmen Watson Charles, and 1st Grade Franklin Elementary Teacher Sarah Schaefermeyer.

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