Exhibit highlights young artists

June 2, 2011
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Brunson student Sade's self portrait

You could hear the pride in William Estrada’s voice as he talked about the blossoming young artists he’s been working with at three Austin elementary schools.

“The discussions they’ve been having about art is amazing. They’re thinking critically and comparing their work to other students’ work. To me, that’s what makes it really exciting,” said Estrada, who has been a teaching artist for five years with Art Resources in Teaching (ART), a non-profit that provides art classes to local school children.

Brunson student Gilbertos' self portrait

About 120 pieces of artwork students produced this year will be on display Friday as part of the second annual “Found in Austin” exhibit at the Austin Town Hall’s Cultural Center Auditorium, 5610 W. Lake St.

Students in 5th, 6th and 7th grade at Milton Brunson Math and Science Specialty Elementary School, Oscar DePriest Elementary School and Ella Flagg Young School created the works, and Estrada said it will focus on two themes – identity and community. The hours of public viewing will be Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The projects at the three schools varied.

DePriest student Alicia made a portrait of the people she sees in Austin.

Students at Milton Brunson created posters with the statement “I want (blank) in Austin.” Estrada said the students created a list of things they liked in the neighborhood and things they would like to change.

“Some of the posters say things like, ‘I want green spaces, ‘I want more jobs’ or ‘I want less violence.’ Just things that they would want in their own neighborhood,” Estrada said.

At Ella Flagg Young, Estrada said the young artists re-named Austin street names using corresponding metaphors. He said the project helped the students find similarities between community and identity.

Brandon, a DePriest student, holds the birdhouse he created.

The young artists at DePriest created collage birdhouses to show their community pride. Estrada said the students took photographs of signs and buildings around Austin, and combined the photographs into collages. The students cut out a hole for birds to seek refuge, then Estrada had the students take pictures of themselves holding the birdhouses.

“We started talking about what the birdhouse represents. Birds migrate to the birdhouses, but they always come back to where they came from. The students started to see that birds build their nests out of the things around them,” Estrada said.

Estrada wanted the students to make the connection that their homes are built out of things, too – “memories, both the good and the bad that come from living. But that’s our home,” he said.

Brian, a DePriest student participating in an afterchool curators program, organized the the artiwork.

A roundtable discussion will follow at the Austin Branch Chicago Public Library Auditorium, 5615 W. Race St., from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Estrada encouraged the Austin community to attend the discussion.

“We want to discuss what kind of impact art can have not just inside the school but outside the school, in the community,” Estrada said.

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