July 2017

by Cassie Stephens, Art Teacher, Johnson Elementary

Cassie Stephens with art students

Some folks go above and beyond what would ever be asked or expected of them. Even fewer people would do this solely out of the kindness of their heart, without expectancy of recognition, a congratulations, or even a high five. They are truly a rare breed. If you find folks like this, cherish them and consider yourself a very lucky person.

I’m one such lucky art teacher. When it came time for our annual Johnson Elementary Art Show, a huge event which showcases every masterpiece that my 300-plus young artists have created throughout the course of the school year, I was fortunate to have my Art Show Moms. These lovely ladies dedicated nearly three solid weeks of their time matting, hanging, and transforming our school halls into a salon-style art gallery. You cannot even imagine the amount of work that goes into a large art show like this . . . but I’ll try to paint you a picture.

Face painting at the art show

The Art Show Moms, who are Molly Brewer, her mom Donna Miller, Lori Fitts, and Terri Coffman, started by hanging deer mesh on the walls of our halls. That’s right, the stuff you put in your yard to keep Bambi from devouring your garden. Because our school walls are cinder-block that literally nothing will stick to (trust me, we’ve tried masking tape, hot glue, sticky tac . . . these walls are determined to be bare), we have found that hanging mesh with a strip of Gaffer’s tape at the top is the best way to hang artwork. Once the mesh is hung, artwork can be pinned to the mesh with clothespins.

After several days of hanging the mesh, the moms start helping me mat student artwork. My students work very hard to create their masterpieces all year, and showcasing them with a mat of something as simple as construction paper really makes a difference. But with hundreds of pieces of artwork, it can be very time-consuming. Thank goodness I have these amazing mamas as backup!

One wall of art at the show

Once the work is matted, it’s ready to be hung, and that is where the Art Show Moms really show their stuff. They have become experts at figuring out this Tetris-style game of how to hang so many pieces of art on limited wall space. It’s not just a matter of making sure the artwork is hung but that it’s displayed in such a way that it is beautiful to see. It really is amazing to see so much student artwork on display. What a way to celebrate a year of creating!

On the night of the art show, it truly is amazing to see the number of families who come out to celebrate their young artists. Happy artists are everywhere, pointing to their artwork, smiling from ear to ear while their proud parents snap photos. Moments like that would not be possible without the help of the Art Show Moms. I’m very lucky to have such supportive parents who make a difference in our school and our young artists. I cannot thank them enough!

Cassie Stephens arranges a table of 3D student art

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