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South Salt Lake Journal

Granite Park Junior High creativity on display at art show

May 06, 2024 03:09PM ● By Sarah Brown

Student artwork on display for the Granite School District annual exhibit. (Sarah Brown/City Journals)

Dozens of families poured into the Granite Education Center April 18 to celebrate their student’s artwork on display as part of the annual Granite District High School Art Exhibition.

The initiative is part of the district’s Visual Arts Program, in which every school participates. Teachers can select up to 50 student pieces for submission.

Students, along with siblings, parents and grandparents, perused the gallery eager to find their art. They conversed about their piece and took photos alongside it. 

New to the exhibition this year were student artist statements, an optional component that encouraged deeper conversation. 

Julia Bossi, visual art teacher for Granite Park Junior High, collaborated with other teachers to incorporate artist statements, a practice she’s been doing in her classroom for some time. It’s part of her effort to cultivate student self-expression through art. 

“Art speaks, but the artist statement can add another depth to it that really enhances the viewer experience,” she said.

Bossi encourages her students to consider their idea and why it’s important to them. 

She said her goal is to “give students the materials and allow them to work with the material of their choice in a way that is meaningful for them so that it’s their idea and it’s authentic to them.”

Several of Bossi’s students had portraits in the exhibition. 

One of those students, Rigoberto Aranda, submitted a portrait titled, “View Different,” using oil pastels and black watercolor paper. His statement read, “My art piece is about how people can look at me differently and they could say different things about me from each person’s point of view.”

Often students would stop and admire their classmate’s work. Many families took their time appreciating all of the art showcased—sculptures, sketches, mixed media, pastels, cardboard cutouts, cards, watercolors, ink, block printing and more. 

The district hosts the exhibition as a way to promote arts and recognize students and teachers.

There was a reception for students and their families, and a special QR code was set up to allow visitors to send a note of encouragement to the student artists. 

Teachers from each school will also receive a stipend for their classroom, to be used at their discretion. 

Noemi Hernandez-Balcazar, fine arts specialist for Granite School District, shared her thoughts on the evolution of the Visual Arts Program over her tenure. She feels the program has been strengthened by guest artist specialists, a group of experts that “visit the schools and help the teachers to ensure access to the platforms and elevate teacher learning.” 

“The past two years, we have had 100% school participation,” she said, “as teachers are seeing the importance of promoting and celebrating students.” 

Reflecting on the exhibition, Bossi said, “I hope visitors leave feeling impressed at the accomplishments of the young artists of Granite School District and inspired to nurture their own creativity.”

Her lesson for students and visitors alike: “Take time to appreciate abstract art and think about how and why the artist chose to depart from a realistic representation of the subject.” λ