Museum looks to children's art to bring in visitors, new members

The founders of the Midwest Museum of American Art in Elkhart started an annual display of student work just a year after the museum opened.

Posted on March 2, 2014 at 5:31 p.m.

Thirty-five years ago, a new museum in downtown Elkhart wasn't getting as many visitors as its founders would have liked.

So, they decided to display art created by local high school students and give awards in partnership with other local organizations. Hundreds of people began crowding in to the museum to see the handiwork of their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Jane Burns, director of the Midwest Museum of American Art, said the annual youth art exhibit has been "highly successful" and it has brought new visitors and new members to the museum each year.

How you can see the youth art exhibit

The exhibit opens to the public on Tuesday, March 4 and youth art will be on display until Sunday, March 30.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for students. Sunday is free family day.

"Now they've been in here, and they've seen we don't bite — they will come back," Burns said Sunday, March 2, after the opening of this year's exhibit.

The exhibit is a way for the museum to connect with the community, and according to organizers it's working beautifully.

It was clear from the crowd of about 300 people at the museum Sunday that most students involved in the exhibit had brought their entire family with them.

And there's no reason they shouldn't have — Burns said that admission is free for the students involved and their families not only Sunday, but also for the entire four weeks of the exhibit.

James Bradberry, a junior at Northridge High School, attended the event with his younger sister, parents and grandmother. The family spent time admiring Bradberry's piece of pottery and checked out pieces by other students.

Bradberry said he became interested in pottery after taking a 3D art class. He likes his piece displayed for the exhibit, he said, because it's colorful.

Another student, Concord senior Maria Pairitz, identified her art as "colorful." She painted a profile of her 15-year-old sister Annika Pairitz.

The painting, which Maria Pairitz said is her first, shows a smiling girl with sunset-like purple and yellow colors flowing through her hair.

Pairitz said she does portraits of people who inspire her, and she chose her younger sister because "she doesn't let anything stand in her way. She's a very strong person."

Annika Pairitz said she loves the painting and hopes her sister will give it to her after the exhibit is over.

Maria Pairitz won the Tri Kappa Alpha Rho Curators' Choice award for one of her other pieces, a photo collage titled "Lights."

Artwork in the museum's exhibit was selected by teachers at Concord High School, Elkhart Central High School, Elkhart Memorial High School, Northridge High School and the Elkhart Area Career Center.

Here's a complete list of the award winners:

Mary Jane Parmater Keefe Awards of Excellence

Cara Huber — Memorial “Still Life in Gray Scale”

Tomi Ohman — Central “Steamy Whale”

Emilee Ross — Concord “Raven”

Wendy Sandoval — Central “Hell Above”

Erin Smith — Northridge “Research Workbook”

Anya Stucky — Central “Nessie”

Kappa Kappa Kappa, Alpha Rho Curators’ Choice Awards

Aubrey Castleman — Central “Light Reversal”

Abigail French — Northridge “Untitled (Fox)”

Alexandra Freshour — Memorial “Monarch”

Cara Huber — Memorial “Landscape #1”

Maria Pairitz — Concord “Lights”

Emilee Ross — Concord “Raven”

Taylor Ross — Northridge “Research Workbook”

Wendy Sandoval — Central “Hell Above”

Erin Smith — Northridge “Untitled”

Drew Wysong — Concord “Birds of a Feather”

Robert Boyer Memorial Youth Art Award

MacKenzie Andrews — Memorial “Ripped Effect”

Sage Baltazar — Northridge “Untitled (abstract design)"

Mason Bemiller — Northridge “Ewer”

Gretchen Hurtle — Memorial “Sweater Weather”

Carly Lochmandy — Memorial “Iron Man”

Elkhart Evening Optimists Phillip Monteith Scholarship $500

Casandra Shelton — Central “Infestation”


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