FORT MILL — It was a night of firsts for Liam Quinn, a first-grade student at Springfield Elementary School: his first time going to a gallery opening and the first time he’d had his artwork displayed.
It was a night of firsts for Liam Quinn, a first-grade student at Springfield Elementary School: his first time going to a gallery opening and the first time he’d had his artwork displayed.
Liam walked among the artwork on display in the new Springfield Elementary School art gallery before finding his drawing of a dog. He proudly showed it off to his mom, Carol Quinn.
Quinn’s other son, Colin, who is in fourth grade, led the family further down the hallway to show his painting of a starfish. He explained how he painted it using saran wrap for texture.
“It’s special to have it hanging in the gallery,” Colin said.
“This is great,” Carol Quinn said. “It really allows them to show themselves to people.”
The Springfield Elementary School Art Gallery is a hallway in the school that has been transformed by paint and frames into a place where student artwork can be displayed and enjoyed by parents, teachers, students and visitors. The project was funded by a $971 grant from the Arts Council of York County and a $1,000 donation from the school’s PTA.
Principal Peter Olinger said that the hallway, situated near the school’s front entrance, was perfectly suited to draw parents and visitors, but would also attract attention from students entering and leaving the cafeteria.
While academics are an important focus in the school, he said, “There is so much more to growing character than just the academic side. We’re excited about what this adds to our school.”
Art teacher Roberta Martin hopes to change out the artwork at least five times each school year — which will allow at least 360 children to have their artwork displayed during the year.
The frames in the gallery were selected because of their durability but also because their unique design makes changing out the artwork easy – the frames pop on and off to allow artwork to slide in and out easily.
Before the art gallery was created, student art work would be displayed in the art room or in the hallway outside the art room, Martin said. Students would get excited to see their art displayed there, she said, but “I wanted to honor what they do in a greater way.”
Already, the gallery is sparking discussion, she said.
“The kids love it and they actually discuss the artwork, which is so cool,” Martin said.
Parent volunteer Nicki Gaskins designed and painted the walls in the gallery with bright geometric shapes. Frames for the artwork are different sizes for visual interest, she said.
“I just wanted to help and make it as interesting as possible and make the artwork pop out,” Gaskins said.
Gaskins began painting the walls in the gallery in early January and wrapped up the project last week. As an artist herself, Gaskins remembers the impact art had on her as a child.
She recalls an art project she did in sixth grade, and how it made a lasting impression on her. She hopes that creating art and having it displayed will be meaningful for Springfield Elementary School students as well.
“It’s so worth it to have a way for the kids to feel special and to shape them for their lives,” Gaskins said.