"Valley Kids" show off work in Glenwood
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” It takes only a passing look into the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts to get a jolt to the senses. Right now, the place is just bursting at the seams with work.
“We’re going to the ceilings,” said Gayle Mortell, executive director. “From the floor to the ceilings and going up the stairs.”
That’s no lie. Paintings and sculptures and drawings and prints and ceramics seem to be everywhere, everywhere that fits. And until April 6, that’s how it’s going be. For the third year, the center is hosting its biggest exhibit, “Valley Kids.” The long-running art show features the work of hundreds of area students from more than 30 teachers. Mortell went into the history of the show ” about how it started in Aspen about 25 years ago, about how glad she was to take it on. As she talked on about the color and creativity of the work, she sounded excited, inspired even. But still, it was all coming from an adult. What does the exhibit mean to the children themselves?
Flash to Carbondale Middle School, a few days ago. There, in Ami Maes’ art classes, dozens of students featured in the show were gluing and painting, screaming and giggling as they did. Interestingly enough, when asked about their work, their answers were strikingly similar. Already, they knew ” the point is expressing themselves.
“It feels good, seeing that it’s never really been on display before,” said Kerwin Hirro, 11, of his work. The sixth-grader’s long-dark hair was falling in his eyes, and he was yelling out jokes at his friends. He mentioned the buzz word of the classroom.
“I just like the fact that I can express myself any way I want,” he said.
Nearby, Kimberly Vega, 11, also in sixth grade, was putting the finishing touches on her collage, popping pink and flowered.
“I get to, like, express myself in the things I like and stuff,” she said. “I think it’s pretty fun because I get to put whatever I want on there (her work). It doesn’t need to be what other people tell you to put on there.”
And it kept going like that, from student to student. Though each one was obviously unique, their desire to be heard through their art felt the same. While it might be simplistic to make such a leap, the room did feel like a microcosm of the whole show.
Maes, 31, was helping and watching the scene unfold. She explained that, as a valley local, “Valley Kids” has always been close to her heart. While some might not see the need for a children’s exhibit, she more than gets it. For them, and for her, this show is special.
“It’s just really important for the kids to have a real world experience,” she said. “This is kind of the time in their life where everyone’s in art.”
She then offered several more words, articulate ones about art and youth and culture, but there are only so many that can be used here. And, according to one of her students, when it comes to art, maybe words don’t always do the trick, anyway.
“Sometimes, like painting and drawing and stuff is, like, more important than, like, talking,” said eight-grader Will Tempest, a low key kid. He has a collage, print and drawing in the exhibit.
“Sometimes when you talk, people don’t listen to you,” he went on. “I think sometimes, people rely more on their eyes than their ears.”
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.