On Saturday, February 11, the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) will open the first of two highly anticipated exhibits of the year in the Burnsville Gallery with their Annual Student Showcase of work from Yancey County students. One week later, the Spruce Pine Gallery begins an exhibition of Mitchell county student work. These two displays from all students in all school settings—from public to private to those schooled at home—cover the walls and pedestals, floor to ceiling with color and imagination. Over the past school year, students have let their creativity flow into works on paper and canvas, in clay and in fiber, with stones and sequins, beads and baubles, and they present it all to the community in two dazzling exhibitions. Student art is all about splashes of color and intriguing ways of capturing perceptions in artistic forms. The shows promise to delight the senses. Keenly aware of the great role art plays in forming awareness and skills in our youth, TRAC views arts education as one of the basics of its mission. Involvement in the arts results in gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skills. Experiencing the arts first hand improves motivation, concentration, confidence, and promotes a teamwork mentality. Merely opening young eyes to new ways of seeing creates the foundation to forge social bonds and community.
Students look forward to these exhibits. They bring moms and dads, grandparents, nieces, nephews, even the neighbor across the street to see their work. This is the art of future Toe River Valley artists, and we are so proud of them.
And each year, mixed media artist True Kelly festoons a corner of the Spruce Pine Gallery and the windows in the Burnsville Gallery with photographs from students past having fun with art.
We celebrate the work of the hardworking art teachers in both counties. In Mitchell, Amy Masterman at Greenlee primary, Leslie Dickerson on the elementary level, Olivia Ellis in the middle schools, and Melisa Caddell at Mitchell High. Yancey County has mirrored teachers with Marcia Huskins for grades K-5, Keli Miller at the middle schools, and Christy Edwards at Mountain Heritage High. These individuals spend the entire year developing curriculum-based projects and teaching arts to over 3,000 students. These exhibits continue to confirm their dedication to their students and their support of arts in education. And we can’t forget the teachers in the private and home school settings. They never neglect the arts when working with young minds and hands.
Get out of the misty cold. Step into a cacaphony of warm color at both the Arts Council galleries. The Arts Showcase at the Spruce Pine Gallery, located at 269 Oak Avenue, will run from February 18-March 18. On March 3 (with a snow day on the 10th), Arts Matter, a consortium of arts professions in Mitchell County, will host a free and open to the public reception at the Spruce Pine Gallery from 4 to 6pm. Yancey’s Showcase starts February 11 and will run an additional week—until March 25 with an Open House on March 25 from 1 to 4:30pm. Gallery hours are 10:30am to 5:00pm, Tuesday-Saturday. For more information about the exhibitions, please call 828.765.0520.
TRAC is a non-profit organization founded in 1976 to promote the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties and funded in part by a Grasssroots Art Grant, through the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, a state agency, and both Mitchell and Yancey County Schools. For more information about the Arts Council’s educational arts programs, visit the website, www.toeriverarts.org or call 828.682.7215.