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Community comes together through art
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The reception for the third annual county wide art show was filled with proud Dawson County students and parents who were excited to see their artwork on display at the Performing Arts Center. - photo by Jessica Taylor

The third annual countywide art show can be described in one word: amazing.

At the show’s reception Thursday evening, proud artists and their families came out in abundance to view hundreds of art pieces on display in the lobby of the Dawson County Performing Arts Center.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Kelly Shippey, the art teacher at Black’s Mill Elementary. “I think it’s amazing to see the variety and the many different kinds of art. You don’t just see the 2D. You also see the 3D and how the children’s personality comes out in their artwork.”

It’s no easy task bringing together artwork from six different schools, but DCHS seniors Mia Gorski and Katie Goodwin were up for the challenge. Beginning in January, Gorski and Goodwin put in a lot of hours to make sure every piece was accounted for and began designing the show.

“Every year it’s kind of like, you know, we need to put all of our effort and all of our time into doing this to make sure it looks like we want it to be,” said the show’s assistant director Goodwin.

The long days after school and overcoming setbacks like weird weather in January and a tight deadline paid off in what Gorski and Goodwin describe as a show that is their “pride and joy.”

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DCHS senior Mia Gorski, who directed the art show, stands next to her timeline of art she created throughout high school as well as her digital pop art self-portrait. - photo by Jessica Taylor

“(Art) is the foundation of my being. I started doing art when I was seven and everybody in my family did art too and it’s like what I’ve grown up knowing and doing for so long,” said Gorski who directed the show. “The art show brings a lot of people together and you get to express yourself in art…I think it’s a really good way to inspire (kids) to continue doing it.”

Helping kids experience the wonders of art was a common theme throughout the night as Gorski and Goodwin hope they will become more involved with art as they grow up.

“It’s mostly just us wanting to get these kids into art and to get a new generation going and help make them want to support the art program like we have,” said Goodwin.

It was also the teachers who see the powerful impact the arts have on young minds.

“This is really, really important for the children. They don’t have a chance to let go and exercise their creativity in the regular classroom because it’s so rigorous,” said Shippey. “I enjoy getting the kids up and moving around, finding things they want to create on their own and giving them a project in mind and kind of experiment with what they can do.”

Shippey brought in 70 pieces created by her students, including plaster casts of Shabtis, ancient Egyptian figures that are added to the mummy’s sarcophagus to protect the spirit in the afterlife.

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Landyn Bryant, a third grader from Black’s Mill Elementary, poses next to her ceramic Shabti or “Mummy Phone” that she created in her art class. - photo by Jessica Taylor

But her third graders thought the Shabtis they created looked like something else.

“They were like ‘Oh man maybe these are mummy phones!’ So they picked them up and started using them like as mummy phones and I thought ‘why not use them for different reasons,’” Shippey said.

In Hailey Fowler’s art classes at Kilough Elementary, her students created clay and plaster cupcakes and pies to emulate that pastry shop feel. They also worked on projects in conjunction with their social studies lessons by creating moon cakes from the Moon Festival in China, sugar skulls from Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration and Native American artifacts the students had learned about in class.

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Students from Hailey Fowler’s art class at Kilough Elementary created ceramic pieces inspired by bakeries. Pies, cupcakes and more sweet treats were made with clay and painted for the art show. - photo by Jessica Taylor

The junior high students enjoyed endless possibilities in first year art teacher Rebecca Wilkes’ class. She encouraged them to pick their own medium and subject matter. Overall the junior high brought over 50 unique and diverse pieces to the show.

For Wilkes, the eighth and ninth graders are at a point in their lives where art can help them express themselves, which is her number one goal.

“What’s most important for them at this age is learning to express themselves and learning that no matter who they are that that’s okay and it’s okay to express it and it’s a beautiful thing. Especially in 2018, kids get very self-conscious about expressing themselves and they have to be this or they have to be that,” said Wilkes. “In my classroom I try to create an environment where they feel confident in who they are and feel free to express that and know that whoever they are that’s okay and should be celebrated because we all have differences and those should be celebrated and not hidden.”

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The countywide art show featured many colorful and expressive pieces including this ceramic statue created by DCHS senior Karleigh Davenport. - photo by Jessica Taylor

Seeing the art show come together and watching the community’s students get excited about their art on display revived DCHS art teacher Jennifer Gray, who said her senior class went through a lot to make the show a success.

“You stop and you notice truly like the importance of your students and how they do come together through hard times,” said Gray.

With hundreds of pieces of art on display, Gray said she’s excited to see the arts are flourishing in the growing county and seeing the art get better and better each year.

“If Dawsonville is doing anything right it’s our fine arts,” said Gray.