On Saturday, February 8, the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) will mark their first exhibit of the year in the Spruce Pine TRAC Gallery with their Annual Student Showcase (last year's exhibit pictured above). And in Yancey County, it all begins the following week on February 15. Folks can get some instant relief from a wintry landscape by visiting a rainbow of art by public school students in the two-county region at both the TRAC Spruce Pine and Burnsville Galleries.
Last year's YanceyCounty exhibit pictured above.
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 of our youth, TRAC views arts education as an integral part of its mission. Involvement in the arts results in gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning improves motivation, concentration, confidence, and a promotes a teamwork mentality. According to the Rand Report, the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual's life. It “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing.” This simple link creates the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. Throughout the year TRAC, with funding from local and state agencies, sends teaching artists into both county school systems to offer in-depth arts education to the children. And once a year, in both TRAC galleries, they host an exhibit of student work of all levels and from all schools (including home-schools) in the two counties.
The exhibit will overflow with dazzling colorful examples of youthful creativity. Every inch of the room will be covered with gifts of imagination. Art from public, private and home school students in grades elementary through high school will fill the walls. Work of future Toe River Valley artists will shine among the 300 plus pieces on display. Also, Penland School of Crafts’ teaching artist Meg Peterson collaborates closely the with Mitchell County Public Schools to provide curriculum-integrated arts opportunities to students, whose journals and books will be on display. The student art exhibit is an excellent learning experience and a way to boost youthful self-esteem. It raises awareness of the importance of art to the community.
We celebrate the work of the hardworking art teachers in both counties —Samantha Hundley and Amy Masterman in the elementary schools, Leslie Dickerson, new to the middle schools, and Jennifer Robinson at Mitchell County High. Yancey County has mirrored teachers 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 4,000 students annually. And these yearly exhibits continue to demonstrate their dedication to their students and their support of arts in education. And arts education is linked to what we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.
The Arts Showcase at the Spruce Pine Gallery, located at 269 Oak Avenue, will run from February 8-March 15. Yancey’s Showcase starts one week later on Februrary 15 and will run until March 22. 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 state agency, the United Way of Mitchell County, and the Yancey County Community Fund. For more information about the Arts Council’s educational arts programs, visit the website, www.toeriverarts.org or call 828.682.7215.