Budding artists at Crawford Middle School in Lexington now have a formal venue for showing off their creations.
Crawford recently opened its own art gallery, offering a place for students, as well as faculty members and even people from the surrounding community, to display paintings, drawings and other works they have made.
The gallery is showing paintings, drawings and painted masks by students, as well as paintings and ceramics by faculty members, wood carvings by area residents, and some works by Morehead State University students.
Crawford has applied to make its gallery an official stop on Lexington's Gallery Hop, giving exhibitors access to a much wider audience. The next Gallery Hop, a tour of art galleries around town, is scheduled for April 19.
The idea for a gallery grew out of talks between Crawford Principal Mike Jones and art teacher Adam Craft about things the school could do to encourage more interest in art among students.
"Back around the start of the school year, Adam and I started talking about a vision of having a place in the building where kids, families and the community could come in and walk through to look at art," Jones said. "We had an unused room where the school bookstore used to be, and I was planning to move my office in there. But when Adam suggested using it as a gallery, I thought that was the right use for the space."
The gallery opened Feb. 28, when Crawford was holding a school family night program.
"We probably had 50 to 75 families coming through the school and the response was terrific," Jones said. "Now, I see kids stopping to look in at the gallery and see what's on display. They really seem interested."
Among the works on display is a brightly colored spider mask by Crawford eighth-grader Hallie Wilson, 14. Made of papier maché, it is decorated with intricate, interlocking geometrical shapes in green, black, blue, orange and pink.
"It took a few days," Hallie said. "I've been doing art since I was, like, three or four. I really love it."
Another eighth-grader, Unore Clark, 14, has a small painting of a house. Painted on a wooden board, it features cool colors and has a quiet feel.
"It's the first real painting I've ever done," Unore said.
Also on display are two replicas of Native American flutes by David Dicks, a substitute teacher at Crawford.
Dicks, who has Choctaw ancestry, demonstrated one of the flutes by playing a few soft notes. He said he makes flutes strictly as a hobby, but is happy to have a place for people to see them.
Craft, the Crawford art teacher, said the idea for the gallery was to give a wide range of people an opportunity to take part.
"We didn't want all of the art to just come from art classes," he said. "It's a chance for all the kids to learn that they can make works that can be shown.
"We've also had family members coming in and asking if they could show things that they've made," Craft said. "It's going to be a great educational tool"
Jones said Crawford hasn't yet developed a formal process for selecting works to be displayed in the gallery. But he said residents interested in having their art shown can call the school.
Jones also says he and Craft hope other Fayette County Schools will open galleries of their own.
The Fayette County district is considering various ideas for boosting all types of arts education, including possible expansion of the School for the Creative and Performing Arts.
While Jones doesn't make art himself, he contends that exposure to the arts is a key part of education.
"I value the arts, and actually taught art and humanities at one point," he said. "So, when I see a passion for arts among our students and our staff, I feel like it's my job to support that and create a venue for them."