Southern Door Hosts 15th Annual Fine Arts Fest

“Rusty” sculpture.

Hundreds of Southern Door elementary and middle school students will have the opportunity to put their artistic and musical talents on display during the 15th Annual Southern Door Elementary and Middle School Fine Arts Fest on Thursday, April 9.

The festival will celebrate the creativity of the district’s kindergarten through eighth grade students by exhibiting their artwork and allowing them to receive written comments and critiques. For Ernest Beutel, Southern Door’s fifth through eighth grade art teacher and co-organizer of the event, the annual fest is a year-end culmination of the district’s art classes.

“It’s a good way to show off what the kids have done in the arts, both the visual arts and musically,” Beutel said. “ … I think it offers the students the chance to see their artwork up and sometimes throughout the course of the year, some of them tend to forget what they did … it’s about the end product but it’s also about learning. They see it on the wall and they’re reminded of what they learned throughout the year.”

This year, Beutel has led the seventh and eighth grade students in introduction to art, fibers, ceramics, sculpture, and drawing and painting. Fifth and sixth grade students are exposed to several units throughout the year that will introduce them to the course offerings they will have in seventh and eighth grade.

Elementary students, under the leadership of K – 4th grade art teacher Barb Schriner-Schmitt, will exhibit two-dimensional collages, drawings, paintings and murals. In the upper elementary levels, students have created work that represents the different cultures throughout the world.

“This year, we’re working with the Day of the Dead projects for the Mexican culture,” Schriner-Schmitt said. “Another project is the Arctic area, and an Indian project from India. My goal is for them to see that art that is created in the world and that different cultures have different inspiration.”


Beutel hopes to have some examples of student work from ceramics (double pinch pots and coil pots) ready for the salon-style exhibit and is excited about the opportunity to showcase creations from the sculpture class, which he started last school year (2013-14). Through that class, he introduced students to relief sculptures and sculpture in the round.

“Relief sculptures are two-dimensional sculptures with three-dimensional elements, so it’s more like a wall hanging with three-dimensional elements,” Beutel said. “In the round would be a full sculpture that you can walk around and see at all angles.”

Art exhibits will include decoupage wire sculptures, relief sculptures, and kinetic sculptures, along with displays from the drawing and painting course, in which students were directed to combine free form and geometric shapes with analogous colors to create a work of art with a hidden picture in it. Fibers, including yarn weavings, paper weavings and soft sculptures, will round out the artistic element of the middle school portion.

Schriner-Schmitt has seen the Fine Arts Fest grow in myriad ways since she began coordinating it 13 years ago. For one, the representation of the student body is all encompassing, with nearly 700 students in kindergarten through eighth grade having their work up for display.

Another new element this year is the opportunity to create at the festival. Schriner-Schmitt has organized hands-on opportunities to work with clay, along with pottery wheel demonstrations by professional artists, including George Ouimette, Keith Carter, Kris Kolinski and Thomas Conard.

“We’re going to have hand-building available so that parents and students together can make a hand-built bowl while they watch these artists make a wheel-thrown pot,” Schriner-Schmitt said.

The bowls will then be fired in a kiln and this fall, the art department hopes to collaborate with the school’s garden group and Parents In Education group to sell the bowls as a fundraising effort.

Helicopter sculpture.

The festival will also include musical performances, Scholastic book fair, ice cream sale, and Destination Imagination presentations. Fine Arts Fest attendees are also encouraged to provide written feedback on the student work, something Schriner-Schmitt said has a positive impact on students.

“I think they really enjoy it a lot,” Schriner-Schmitt said. “It’s meaningful to both the audience member and the student artist. It’s very powerful sometimes.”

The artwork will be placed in the days leading up to the event and will remain on the walls and throughout the school through mid-May.

“I would encourage people to go to see what’s going on in the community and see what kind of artwork the kids are making,” Beutel said. “I think it will be a strong display of artwork.”

“The night of the festival is when you really get to see the excitement,” Beutel added. “They bring their parents, then they get to show off their work. That’s when you really see their eyes get big and they get excited about it. I get like that too.”

The 15th Annual Southern Door Elementary and Middle School Fine Arts Fest will be held from 5 – 8pm at Southern Door Elementary and Middle School. The event is free and open to the public.