Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Arts Council showcases regional children’s art

Tuesday, February 9, 2021
A mannequin hand reaches through a roll of "trashformed" mail."The Endless Junkmail Scroll Installation" by Nemec is an interactive site that hangs from the ceiling and twists through space, requiring the viewer to walk beneath and through it.
Photo by Anna Estes

On the first Friday of every month, the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri hosts an art walk to showcase art from across the region. As part of the First Friday series, on Friday, Feb. 5, art events were spread across downtown Cape Girardeau.

The Arts Council held an exhibition of work from members of their artKIDtech program in place of their usual February children’s art festival. Members of the program, ages 5-17, were asked in January to submit their pieces to the Arts Council.

“When we put out the call, it was like, ‘Are we gonna have enough kids? Are enough kids interested in the arts?’” Arts Council Director Kelly Downes said. According to Downes, it was a powerful statement to be able to say yes, there were enough kids, and she’s very proud of the development.

The artKIDtech program was initiated by Downes and other members of the Arts Council board in the wake of COVID-19 as a way for children in the Southeast region to remain engaged in art education for the duration of the lockdown.

“I knew there wasn’t art education happening with the kids being in homeschool,” Downes said. “We just really wanted to provide meaningful experiences in the arts.”

Downes described the children’s involvement in the arts as “life-saving.”

Downes attributes the artKIDtech program to teaching children how to use art to build emotional acceptance and resilience, as well as critical thinking skills.

The walls of the Arts Council building had no shortage of creative artwork from children and teens in the area. From pencil on paper pieces to oil paintings, portraits and abstract work, the artKIDtech members’ works were on display in a way that Downes believes takes the creation from their bedrooms and makes it real.

“To put it out there, in one way makes it a product, but it also is saying, ‘This is worth being a product,’” Downes said. “This diversification of thought is going to help them through times that are difficult.”

The future of the artKIDtech program, according to Downes, is continued growth. Some of the program’s next steps will include public art, gardening and more, to teach active citizenship through art to the region’s children.

“It’s about how you invest in your community and in yourself in tangible ways,” Downes said. “There’s also very practical skills which say, ‘I can lend a hand in creating something into being in my community.’”

For more information about the program, visit the artKIDtech page at the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri’s website.

At Crisp Museum, located at Southeast’s River Campus, artist Sayaka Ganz presented her traveling exhibition “Reclaimed Creations.” Ganz’s pieces use reclaimed plastic items, including serving spoons, sunglasses and spatulas on metal frames to create the illusion of animals in motion.

At Catapult Creative House, more artists’ works were exhibited. Southeast BFA student Ashlyn Kinman’s exhibition titled “Flow” was on display in the upper level. In the lobby, “The Endless Junkmail Scroll” by artist Vernita Nemec stopped by Cape Girardeau on its world tour.