Young artists from Montezuma-Cortez High School received a room full of appreciation for their artwork.
The annual M-CHS Art Show opened on Feb. 22. From freshman to seniors, beginners to experienced artists, students showcased their best work from the school year at the Cortez Cultural Center.
The National Arts Honors Society helped pull the reception together by setting up a refreshment table and greeting viewers. Around 80 to 100 pieces of art hung on the walls ranging from pencil drawings, photographs, pastels, charcoals and mixed media.
Deb Harriman has taught art at M-CHS for 29 years. She says now is a great time to appreciate art created by the students.
"March is the National Youth Art Month where we celebrate art in public schools," Harriman said. "The arts aren't always celebrated and so much of the art programs are cut. I think it (art) is so important to reach higher levels of thinking skills."
Every piece of art came from the art classes at M-CHS. Art 1 students all the way to Art 4 students were present, right down to the specialty classes such as Native hands and Native voices. There are currently two full-time art teachers and one part-time teacher who handle seven different types of art classes.
Darnell Bane, teaches part-time at both M-CHS and Manaugh Elementary. She was a student of Harriman's not long ago. This is her eighth year teaching and second year at M-CHS.
"Classes are packed," Bane said. "And there are some kids that didn't get into Art 1 because there was no room."
Bane was one of the full-time art teachers at M-CHS but was recently cut down to part-time. Bane feels art in school is necessary for other subjects and learning opportunities. Though there is a small presence of art in elementary schools Bane is happy to have found a part-time position with Manaugh.
"Art is related to every discipline," she said. "We see positive patterns in math, visualizing stories, reading and writing, crossover skills in P.E., art in history. It connects to other courses in a number of ways and it encourages creativity that we are constantly trying to beat out of our children."
Bane hopes the new high school will help restructure the art program so there is more room for students. Once a student with her own art in past shows, she is now understanding what it's like to be in the teacher's shoes.
"The transition is different," she said. "I moved from people you held in awe to now appearing that way."
Julia Damore-Rome is a freshman and has two pieces in the show even though she has only been in the high school art program for about six months. "I think it's a good reflection for our community to see our efforts and how hard we work," Damore-Rome said. "It's good that we have this program. I'm proud my work is up."
Students and M-CHS teachers were coming and going to support their peers. NAHS president Tara Abrams is a junior and is in her third year as a member of the club. She has one piece of art in the show - a drawing of a fairy.
"This shows that the art program works," Abrams said. "A lot of people feel the school has a negative reputation but then they see the art and how good it really is. Hopefully that positively influences the school."
Abrams wants to keep art as a hobby once she graduates from high school but many of the art students present were hoping to go one step further. Tronson Ware, a junior, has four pieces in the show - a still life portrait of strawberries, a forest scene, and a pastel of a raven. His drawing of a right-sided view of a face with a tear forming in the eye, was chosen to be on the flyer for the art show. He said it was an honor to have his work seen by so many people.
"It feels good that they chose my work," he said. "Art is important because it lets kids get out of their comfort zones. That's what it has done for me."
The M-CHS art show will continue to run at the Cultural Center until Friday, March 1. The community is encouraged to come by and see the work of talented young people. There will be a second show in May that will contain judged artwork from the entire school year.