Valparaiso’s Spring into the Arts Festival showcases student art

“When children are exposed to art, seeds of creative passion are harvested.”

Photo Credit: Provided by Jessica Corral

Valparaiso’s Spring into the Arts Festival showcases student art

Written by: Jerry Davich
May 1, 2018


As a girl, Jessica Corral completely immersed herself in creative projects, inspiring her to take action. As a woman, she has continued her artistic immersion, yet still with a child’s wonderment and imagination. Corral sees children as a blank canvas for artistic expression, whether it’s through painting, photography, mixed-media or digital design.  

“When children are exposed to art, seeds of creative passion are harvested,” says Corral, who not surprisingly is an art teacher at Flint Lake Elementary School in Valparaiso. “How will children explore these artistic possibilities if the opportunity isn’t offered by our schools?” 

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As a girl, Jessica Corral completely immersed herself in creative projects, inspiring her to take action. As a woman, she has continued her artistic immersion, yet still with a child’s wonderment and imagination. Corral sees children as a blank canvas for artistic expression, whether it’s through painting, photography, mixed-media or digital design.  

“When children are exposed to art, seeds of creative passion are harvested,” says Corral, who not surprisingly is an art teacher at Flint Lake Elementary School in Valparaiso. “How will children explore these artistic possibilities if the opportunity isn’t offered by our schools?” 

This is the mindset behind Valparaiso Community Schools’ third annual student-centered Spring into the Arts festival. The ongoing month-long event offers a colorful tapestry of artistic genres, once again using downtown Valparaiso as its frame and easel. 

“We are very lucky to have exceptional downtown venues all within walking distance of one another,” says Corral, coordinator of the festival. “No other school district offers a festival of this capacity, embodying all art forms, with students at the center of it.” 

Photo Credit: Sonia Arkkelin
Jessica Corral
Photo Credit: Provided by Jessica Corral
Photo Credit: Provided by Jessica Corral
Photo Credit: Provided by Jessica Corral
Photo Credit: Provided by Jessica Corral

The event is a joint collaboration between the city of Valparaiso, VCS art teachers, and a committee of educators, businesses and residents who are convinced that artistic expression is a meaningful experience in a youngster’s impressionable world. 

“I’m passionate about this festival because I recognize how important experiences are for young learners,” Corral says. 

Sixth-grader Salena Martin is one of the young artists. “Sometimes it’s hard to see what the project will look like during the process,” Salena says. “Then when it’s finally complete, I can look at it and feel proud of my work.”

Student artwork from kindergarten through grade 12 is currently being featured through May 20 at seven downtown locations and at a dozen businesses. In all, more than 1,000 pieces of student artwork will be displayed across all 19 locations. “If a festival of this caliber was offered to me as a girl, I would have been delighted to participate any way I could. It’s all about experiences,” Corral says. 

Creating art as a child is one thing. Sharing it publicly with the world is quite another. “By experiencing actual works of art, young people can learn the value of self-discovery and benefits of creative thought and expression,” says Gregg Hertzlieb, director of the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University. “Art stimulates the imagination and makes the impossible possible.” 

“Our festival enables students to showcase their personal creativity across several artistic genres—visual arts, theater, film and performance art,” Corral adds. 

The festival’s “@rt-chitecture walk” showcases student artwork from every school level at seven downtown locations through May 20. “This creates an opportunity for parents, and the community, to view and interact with art displays at each location,” Corral says. 

 

Photo Credit: Provided by Jessica Corral
Photo Credit: Provided by Jessica Corral

Other events include the “STE@M” show, featuring multiple activities for kids, as well as a “CANstruction” team of elementary students designing and engineering a structure made entirely of canned goods.  

“There is something special that happens when a child sees his or her artwork exhibited in a public space,” Corral says. “I am happy we’ve established a platform to do just that.”