With the use of elementary tools, such as pencils, paint, watercolors, yarn, glitter, scissors, markers and beads, an extensive 5,000-piece art exhibit was conceived and is now on display in cedar City. The ambitious exhibit, however, was not created by seasoned professionals, but rather by Iron County’s youngest artists.
Kindergartners through fifth graders from all of Iron County’s elementary schools participated in Southern Utah Museum of Art’s Dear SUMA Post Card Exhibition, each sending individual post cards to the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) in response to one simple question: “Why do you love art?”
Answers ranged from “it’s really fun and pretty” to “art lets me create a virtual world where I can sing my heart out,” and the area's budding artists did just that, creating a colorful display to cover the walls of the Cedar City Public Library.
The exhibit, coordinated by Iron County School District art directors Melanie Skankey and Jennifer Douglas, provided students in each classroom with nothing more than basic art mediums and blank postcards. One teacher whose students participated in the city-wide effort, South Elementary fifth grade teacher Jeanne Payne, gave her students free reign to the classroom's art supplies, allowing them to express themselves however they wished. “Doing this project was a time for them to be creative without worrying about being graded or critiqued.”
Indeed, one participating student's postcard response echoed the importance of such open-eneded creativity when, in response to the "Why do you love art?" prompt, the student said, "It allows me to make mistakes."
This exhibit marks an important time for Southern Utah University and the community as the two partners endeavor to raise the final $6.1 million of the $31.6 million needed for the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, a combined arts space to benefit both parties and future home of SUMA. With arts education at the forefront of the Center's mission, the Dear SUMA exhibit is a detailed showcase of all the good that can come by giving children opportunities to create and interact with the arts.
“The Dear SUMA Post Card Exhibition is only a small taste of what local children will experience once the [Beverley Taylor Sorenson] Center for the Arts is built,” explained Skankey. “By visiting the art museum and participating in workshops, kids will realize they don’t have to be professional artists to wield a paint brush. They will learn how to appreciate art and to think creatively.”
The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts will incorporate visual arts, live theatre and arts education in one location, enriching the region's cultural life as a year-round destination for arts students, educators, enthusiasts and campus visitors. The Center will be comprised of SUU's SUMA, the Festival's new Shakespeare theatre and an artistic production facility. The Center will also boast classroom and studio space for hands-on educational activities for K-12 groups and university art students.
“SUMA will impact our community for generations,” said Carrie Trenholm, Beverly Taylor Sorenson endowed arts chair at SUU. “Who knows, maybe some of the artwork SUMA will display in the future will be from a child who first made a SUMA post card.”
The remaining $6.1 million needed for the project must be raised by November 15, 2013. A groundbreaking is then slated for March 2014, with a planned completion date for the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts anticipated in the spring of 2016.
For more information about the Center or to donate, Festival friends and patrons as well as supporters of Southern Utah University may call the SUU Advancement Office at 435-586-7775.
The Dear SUMA Post Card Exhibition is now on display at the Cedar City Public Library in the Park through the end of July. The Library is open Mon-Thu, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Fri-Sat, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. The exhibition is free and the public is encouraged to attend.