by Michelle Gehlman-Teeter
On March 16, the Kent Arts Commission held an opening reception for the Kent Student Art Walk. This was the 23rd year of the event that shows off student talent to the Kent community. It’s the largest turnout of participants so far, with over 600 kids and 29 schools displaying their work.
Mark Hendrickson, Cultural Programs Coordinator for the Kent Parks Rec & Cultural Services Department, said that the Art Walk is part of the National Youth Arts Month. The week before, they held a Kent Kids’ Art Day also as part of the national program.
National Youth Art Month, administered by The Council for Art Education, encourages support for quality school art programs. Started in 1961 through The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc., the program provides a medium for recognizing skills developed through visual arts experiences unlike any other curriculum subjects, including: Problem solving, Creativity, Observation, and Communication.
Art shows, special exhibits, fundraisers, and school and community activities take place annually, traditionally during March, to celebrate visual art education for grades K – 12.
Youth Art Month exists to:
- Recognize art education as a viable factor in the total education curricular that develops citizens of a global society.
- Recognize art is a necessity for the full development of better quality of life for all.
- Direct attention to the value of art education for divergent and critical thinking.
- Expand art programs in schools and stimulate new art programs.
- Encourage commitment to the arts by students, community organizations, and individuals everywhere.
- Provide additional opportunities for individuals of all ages to participate in creative art learning.
- Increase community, business and governmental support for art education.
- Increase community understanding and interest in art and art education through involvement in art exhibits, workshops, and other creative ventures.
- Reflect and demonstrate the goals of the National Art Education Association that work toward the improvement of art education at all levels.
The Kent Student Art Walk invites district schools to participate. Instructors then select a class or specific students who are interested in submitting their work for display. The Kent Arts Commission provides the mat boards, certificates and they match each school with a local business to display the artwork in. This year 29 downtown businesses are participating, twelve in historic Kent, and twelve in Kent Station.
There are no contests, just the love of creating and supporting our artistic youth. The art displays will be up until March 24th. You can access a map of all the businesses and schools displaying their work here.
Hendrickson said the event is growing every year. It is one of his favorite events because oftentimes students don’t get to show off creative skills like kids in sports do. This allows them to showcase their talent and let them know it’s a commendable skill.
“It’s now more important than ever to support the arts,” said Hendrickson.