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After trip to see exhibits, local students get creative
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Albert Harris Elementary School third-graders LaMauri Thompson (left) and Sulaimaan Afzal look at the art installation “Louis XIV: Too Much Will Never Be Enough” by Linda Mitchell, part of her recent “Truth in Animals” exhibit at Piedmont Arts. The series included paintings and a fabric sculpture of the ostentatious French monarch in animal form. (Contributed photo)
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013


A visit to the local art museum inspired elementary students to create their own works of anthropomorphic animal art.

Third-grade classes from Albert Harris Elementary School recently toured Piedmont Arts’ exhibits “Truth in Animals” by Linda Mitchell and “Beasties, Tales + Wanderings” by Bassett artist Celia Tucker, both of which had themes of animals and the natural world.

“We’re so fortunate to have a free art museum here so we can expose our children to all these different exhibits,” said Albert Harris Elementary art teacher Lynn Garrett. “This one was especially exciting for the students, because they love animals anyway, and the paintings were so imaginative.”

Mitchell used everything from paint to fabric, glass, beads and wood to depict whimsical scenes of animals, some in human clothes or situations. Tucker’s work included paintings, clay and metal sculptures, photography and a shadowbox of found objects.

Then, back in Garrett’s art classroom, the third-graders made their own mixed media projects inspired by what they had seen. Garrett started by asking them to brainstorm “human things” that they could depict the animals doing.

“I drew a bunny smiling at the mirror. She’s getting ready for a family reunion,” said third-grader Candace Miles.

Other students drew scenes that included birds going to school, two puppies dancing and ninja animals. The drawings then were embellished with fabric and “jewels.”

At the museum, Piedmont Arts Director of Exhibitions Brandon Adams and Education Coordinator Heidi Pinkston led tours of the exhibits and gave students scavenger hunts to complete. Students eagerly looked for clues as they made their way through the galleries, pointing and exclaiming over the pieces of art.

“Ooo, I like this one,” said Athena Spencer, as she and classmate Aleya Potter perused “Truth in Animals.”

“Me too. It looks like glass,” Aleya said, pointing to shiny pieces embedded in one painting.

“I think it all looks awesome. I want to be an artist,” Athena said.

“This is fun,” Logan Carter said while doing the scavenger hunt. His favorite piece? “I liked the puppy with the bow tie,” he said.

“I like the one with the buffalo with wings. It’s funny,” said Lamari Thompson.

“Ooo, this one looks kind of creepy. It has a triceratops head and a bug body,” said Michael Vaughan about one of the paintings.

The King Ra installation, designed by Mitchell especially for the Pannill Gallery at Piedmont Arts, was popular with the students. Floating panels of fabric hanging from the ceiling ushered the onlookers through to face a flying creature made up of the characteristics of several animals. The figure was surrounded by fabric panels with scenes from nature. “It looks cool,” was the consensus from several students.

“They were really responsive, and I like how they use their imagination a lot. This exhibit really inspired them,” Adams said.

“I hope that they’re more comfortable in a museum and understand more about art and artists, and that anybody can be an artist. I tried to explain that it’s subjective — there is no right or wrong answer,” Pinkston said.

Piedmont Arts now is closed for installation of its next exhibits. It will reopen Oct. 5, featuring “The Weight of the Ribbon,” a series of photographs by Curtis Brown that pay homage to his grandmother’s struggle with breast cancer.

Admission to Piedmont Arts is free. For more information, visit


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