Exhibit gives art special attention

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Students at Fletcher Miller School and Sobesky Academy have a venue to show off their artistic talents with an art exhibit at Lakewood’s Cultural Center.

The work of more than 40 students is on display in the east lobby of the center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, through April 1.

Both schools specialize in teaching students with special needs, including physical, cognitive and social challenges as well as visual and hearing disabilities. Student artwork is shown at different venues around Jefferson County throughout the year.

However, Jennifer Russo, the art teacher at Sobesky, and Jenni Halsted, the art teacher at Fletcher Miller, thought their students deserved a show of their own.

“We were approached by the teachers about doing an exhibit,” said Lakewood arts curator Lorene Joos. “They’re so supportive of their students. We’d really like to build on this and make it an annual event.”

Halsted said she and Russo have been discussing doing a show together for a while. She said they have many similar experiences in their teaching, despite being in different schools.

“Art classes provide a creative and expressive outlet for our students,” Russo said. “It’s also an area where many of our students excel, where positive feedback is provided and a sense of accomplishment is nurtured.”

For Halsted, one of the major benefits of providing art opportunities to her students is the way it helps them communicate.

“Many of my students are non-verbal and yet through their artwork, a world of content, emotions, ideas, imagination and talent is revealed in a way that might be more difficult to communicate verbally,” she said.

Both teachers said some of their students have had the chance to see their works on display, and there will be photos in their yearbooks to commemorate the achievement.

For Russo, the best part of the experience has been the chance to show the community the kind of work that is done at Fletcher Miller and Sobesky.

“My favorite (part of the experience) is that many of the projects displayed in this exhibit truly involved a sense of discovery, of experimentation and making mistakes, learning from those mistakes, laughing at them, recognizing how such mistakes can produce great art work, and deciding where to go from there,” Halsted said.

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