In Tallahassee’s City Hall, you can find more than 70 pieces of student artwork hanging from the walls on the second floor showcasing young artist in Leon county.
For nearly 25 years the Council on Culture & Arts (COCA) has partnered with the City of Tallahassee’s Parks and Recreation Department to present the Winter Festival Youth Art Exhibition as one of the Arts in Public Places annual exhibitions.
A public reception held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1 in the City Hall Gallery showcased more than 70 pieces of artwork, representing more than 30 different public and private schools in Leon county.
Amanda Karioth Thompson, who serves as the Education and Exhibitions Director for COCA said that the Winter Festival Youth Art Exhibition has always been extremely popular with the art teachers, students, and the community.
“By publicly displaying our students’ artistry, we engage parents, arts education advocates, and community members in the conversation about the importance of the arts,” Thompson said.
Rocky Hanna, who is the superintendent of Leon county schools said that the youth art exhibition showcases the importance of student creativity.
“I think art and art education is vitally important, especially for our students at a young age,” Hanna said. “It gives them a chance to show their creativity and a lot of these kids, they get up in the morning and what motivates them to go to school is not necessarily the academic courses as much as it is the arts.”
Student musicians from Deerlake Middle School played in the first-floor lobby as they welcomed students, teachers, and the Tallahassee community into City Hall.
Art teachers in Tallahassee were able to submit artwork of up to two individual students in grades K-12. Emily Westfall-Crouch, who is an art teacher at Kate Sullivan Elementary School submitted two third-graders.
“What’s super great to highlight is arts in our schools,” Westfall-Crouch said. “It gives a chance for the community to see everything that the kids are doing elementary through high school and it gives a chance to recognize a few. And it’s super exciting for them to have artwork in City Hall.”
For over 10 years, Thompson has served in an impactful capacity with COCA.
“We’re so fortunate to have Amanda in our community. I mean her passion for art and art education is infectious,” Hanna said.
Designated as the arts agency for Florida’s capital region, COCA’s mission is to serve the community by promoting arts and culture while accepting diverse artistic expressions. Thompson added that it is critically important to support students’ creative and artistic development because it provides them with skills that prepare them for the 21st century workforce, as well as allowing them to grow as human beings.
Thompson also said learning in and through the arts requires students to practice higher-order thinking skills, problem solving skills, communication skills, teamwork, persistence, and empathy.
“This kind of innovation and rigorous study connects them with other people, often from other cultures and other time periods, showing them that all individuals have their own unique perspectives and ideas while simultaneously demonstrating the universal nature of art,” Thompson continued. “It brings us together and it makes us stronger.”
The 2017 Winter Festival Youth Art Exhibition will be at the City Hall Gallery until next month on Jan. 22. It is free to the public and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.