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Sistine Chapel

April 25, 2005

For a project about Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, Carla Sonheim showed her art students a famous image–a close-up of the hands of God and Adam from the “Creation of Adam” panel. She gave them each some charcoal and said, draw.

They said, but we don’t have any paper.

Look under your desks, she said. She had taped their papers there, so that they had to draw while lying on their backs the way Michelangelo did. And they did well.

You can see some of those drawings, and many other works of art, in the “Best of Longfellow” show hanging in the Salida Regional Library until May 15.

The library, through the Arkansas Valley Art Center, shows the work of local artists for a couple of months at a time throughout the year. But for a month every spring, we show the art work of students from Longfellow School.

This year, the show reaches outside the library, too. The art journals of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders are on display at The Book Haven. The Picasso-inspired portraits of pets are at The Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center.

Right across from the library’s main desk, above the copier, are two really fine pieces of “scratch art” by 4th graders. They will make even the copying of your overdue tax returns a delight.

In the children’s room are sculptures by kindergartners and 1st graders. There are some really cool penguins, an eagle protecting its eggs, two bunnies getting married, and a red-tailed seal, among others. I have not yet found reference to this species of seal, so be sure to see it … it may be the only one in the world.

In the windows of the children’s room hang some “Book Mobiles” by 3rd graders. I have to love that pun.

Heading upstairs, you’ll see some appealing and colorful birds by 2nd graders. Then, some self-portraits by 4th graders with the curious theme of “CSAPs make me sleepy.” I don’t know if they represent introspection or circumspection (I would have used stronger language), but they are neat.

On the ends of the fiction aisles are Van Gogh flowers by 3rd graders, one of several projects based on famous artists. The portraits of parents in the style of Modigliani by 2nd graders are really good. There’s a very fine “Klee” called “Taking a line for a walk” by a 4th grader.

On the outside wall by the fiction shelves hang self-portraits by Kindergartners and 1st graders. I had to double-check the grade level. I think my favorite might be “Emul,” but it’s hard to choose. Carla confirmed this difficulty–it was very hard to choose for the show from among scores of artists and hundreds of works.

The student artists used many different techniques: collage, mono-prints, reliefs. Don’t miss the “crayon resist” elephants along the Large Print aisle.

The 4th grade photography club is back, too. The photographers do everything from taking the pictures to developing and printing.

On the outside ends of the non-fiction shelves hang a few collaborative relief prints. Groups of three 4th graders worked on each. The teacher made an interesting observation: The boys fought until the very end and then quickly got it done; the girls decided right away what to do and worked meticulously toward completion.

As one boy said, “Even though it was hard, it’s still a work of art.” I think he found the right equation.

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