“Usually about twice a month a different school will decorate our walls with whatever the students have been working on in their art class and sometimes we’re able to have an art show,” Youth Services Coordinator Thomas Shalin said. “I sent out the schedule [for the art displays] at the beginning of the school year and it fills up pretty fast.”
The MRES art show included a special guest — Diannia Teague, wife of the late Harry Teague, a Cartersville native and outsider artist whose works were seen in the childrens’ books “Just Be Yourself” and “Inside Outside Who We Are,” by author Steve Tiller. She spoke to the young artists about her husband’s work, which also was on display for the evening in the Program Room.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity to be here to share this original art with [the students] because the color that Harry used and how simple it looks and I love their art [on display],” Teague said. “I just want them to do anything you want from your mind and don’t try to copy anything.”
She continued, “... I think Harry would enjoy being here and laughing with the kids sitting here looking at his paintings.”
Following two strokes and a heart attack in the early 1990s, Harry Teague began finding a voice through painting. He passed away in 2006, but his works, which feature an emphasis on solid colors, continue to be displayed. For example, The Booth Western Art Museum featured 20 of his paintings in 2012.
Fourth grader Andy Ellis made a visit to the Program Room to see Harry Teague’s work and also had on display his piece titled “Rainforest Frog,” which was done in pastel.
“[Pastel] is this certain kind of chalk that you can get off really easily,” Ellis explained.
He said his favorite aspect of the MRES art program is working with clay, saying he enjoyed the lesson where he made a dragon and castle.
MRES Art Instructor Jan Johnston said she works to introduce students to the world of art throughout their elementary years.
“I believe, before they leave elementary school, they should have their hands in every medium there is, like clay, print making, painting, drawing, paper mache, 3-D, 2-D,” Johnston said. “There are some that are really good with 3-D, with form, and there are some that are really good drawers, so they are really good at 2-D, with drawing, and they really find their niche that way, to me. ...If they’re interested in art, they know which way they want to go.”
She explained the art lessons also help incorporate what students are learning in different subject areas. For example, Grecian history.
“We took old [coffee] creamer bottles, covered them in plaster and made Grecian vases,” Johnston said. “They’re studying ancient Greece in the third grade and so we talked about Grecian vases, I showed them some different Grecian vases and some of the different designs and they took it from there.”
Johnston said she wants all of her students’ efforts in art to have lasting value.
“I like to think when they leave and go home, it’s not just refrigerator art — it’s art they save and cherish and keep forever,” Johnston said. “Art supplies are expensive, so I think [the supplies] should go toward something they will be proud of when they grow up.”