2020 Sapulpa Student Digital Art Show

As they say, the show must go on
Posted on 05/07/2020
Chalk Pastel piece by Cadence Tobey, 8th grade(SPS) -- Social gathering and distancing aside, Sapulpa art students will have their creations on display.

The art teachers at Sapulpa Junior High and High School made sure of that.

Every April, the high school gym is converted into an art gallery that houses more than 1,500 pieces created by more than 600 students for the Sapulpa Student Art Show. The annual event is a culmination of the work students produce once the school year starts until the very last second before the show opens.

"My students talk about the art show all year. It plays a role in the imagery they choose and the effort they put into their work,” said Sapulpa High School art teacher Jo Martin.

Typically, students scramble to complete projects and then spend several days delivering artwork and pegboard furniture to the gym where they construct, curate, and hang their show. However, the high school, along with all public school buildings have been off limits since just before Spring Break due to the coronavirus pandemic so none of those efforts - producing their artwork or organizing the show - seemed possible this year.

“We knew we had to have some kind of art show, but all the artwork was stuck inside the building and buildings were closed,” said Candice McClanahan, art teacher at Sapulpa High School. “The only thing we knew to do was to photograph as much art as possible and put it online.”

So that’s exactly what McClanahan and her cohorts did. They were granted a small amount of time to go inside their classrooms - one teacher at a time - to find whatever pieces they could.

“The projects that had been finished and put into storage were readily available to photograph, but the recently finished and in-progress works had to be hunted down,” said McClanahan. “We scoured cubbies and flat files, went through rosters to make sure everyone was included. We sent emails to kids and parents about where their work was located if we didn't have a piece for them, and if I couldn't get to it we asked them if they have any pictures of it to send in.”

After the dust settled from their exhaustive search, the teachers found more than 1,200 pieces to display for the 2020 Sapulpa Student Digital Art Show.

“I am excited to see that smaller works that might have gone unnoticed in the regular art show, like categories such as printmaking, pen and ink, and pastels on homemade paper are highlighted because of the digital format. Some fabulous details can now be seen and properly appreciated,” said McClanahan.

Fabulous details. Fabulous pieces. Fabulous collection.

“Not only are Sapulpa kids blessed with an abundance of artistic talent, but our teachers do an outstanding job of fostering that talent and getting the most out of each student,” said Sapulpa High School Principal Seth Shibley. “The show, especially this year, means a lot to our kids and our community.”

The art show is categorized as it is in years past, but new this year are Laser Cut and Graphic Design. The Laser Cut category features designs students drew and uploaded into a computer. From there a new GlowForge 3D Laser printer cut out the designs on wood, matboard, and paper.

As is custom with the in-person art show, awards are handed out. However, just having the show means more to these teachers than the virtual ribbons.

"I wanted my students to know that they aren't forgotten about. I see what they are each capable of and their potential. Their hard work and effort deserves to be recognized and celebrated,” said Kelsey Philpott, Sapulpa Junior High School art teacher. “We wanted to show our kids that we still care about them and all of their hard work they have done this school year.”

What better way to show they care than to spend hours, days, and weeks photographing, labeling, organizing, and creating a digital platform to show off the hard work their students created. And perhaps the art show will take the students' minds off of what's going on around them and the time they lost these last two months of the school year.

“For a lot of kids, art can serve as an escape from reality during hard times, and these are definitely undeniably hard times,” said Carmen Taylor, Sapulpa Junior High School art teacher. “The process of creating art not only builds problem solving skills, but it also acts as a mobile fulcrum point to adjust one's ability to balance whatever life throws at them. Art is an essential outlet.”

You can view the 2020 Sapulpa Student Digital Art Show here.

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