Ten-year-old Jennifer Gomez stared at a pink-and-orange oil painting of ocean waves Tuesday morning at the Tracy Community Center.
“Look at the shading,” she said as the painting hung just inches beyond her nose. “It looks so realistic.”
Jennifer and about 2,000 young students from Tracy-area schools will leave their desks this week and next to get an up-close look at art through the 16th annual Expressions Exhibit of Fine Art.
The perspective, the medium and what might be the story behind the artwork, are just a few questions children’s tour coordinator Kim Powell posed to a group of fifth-grade students.
“I try to relate the art to them,” said Powell, one of eight tour instructors. “I want the kids to realize that they can do this as a possible career.”
In 1991, Expressions director Ann Langley invited students from McKinley Elementary School to walk through the exhibit. The following year, the Tracy Unified School District adopted Expressions as an adjunct to its arts curriculum. Since then, about 34,000 students have toured the exhibit and learned art terms and critique methods. The program has grown to include bilingual and rural schools.
Education through art as a medium breaks barriers such as age, language and intelligence, Langley said. “Our goal is to improve critical-thinking skills. A kindergartener and sixth-grader can grasp the same lesson through art.”
The tour gave Jose Vitlagomez, 10, a few ideas to use in art class. He paused in front of a work that illustrated a woman through oil paints and magazine clippings.
“Art is hard, but I think I might try to paint and paste newspaper,” he said. “I’ll try that and see how it comes out.”
His teacher, Erin Trevethan, teaches her South/West Park Elementary School classroom art lessons once a week and allows free time to draw and paint.
“I tell them, ‘there’s no mistakes because it’s their creation,’” Trevethan said. “They’re always amazed at what an idea can become.”
Expressions will be open to the public Saturday.
To contact reporter Danielle MacMurchy, call 830-4221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.