Ben Watford teaches fourth-grader Cody Patterson how to throw a pot on the wheel at James W. Smith's fourth annual Cultural Arts Day.
By Jennifer Cannon
Staff Writer, New Bern Sun Journal
Posted Mar. 4, 2016 at 3:57 PM
Artists brought their studios to students Friday for James W. Smith Elementary’s fourth annual Cultural Arts Day.
The event, organized by art teacher Debra Travers and co-coordinated by music teacher Marisa Swick and P.E. teacher Ruthie Brown, was designed to expose students to different art forms.
“The majority of our students rarely have the opportunity to go see this for themselves, even to New Bern, unless we take them on a field trip, they pretty much are here so they get an opportunity to not only see finished work but they also see it in progress, and then some of the artists even allow them to participate,” Travers said.
The day is a favorite among students and teachers as it provides an opportunity for students to make connections between what they learn in school and how they can apply it in real life.
“I enjoyed how we got to learn so much about art and the way we got to learn about dance and musicians,” fourth-grader Grady Register said. “My favorite part was the music because they played so many songs and they played together.” Rachel Pino entertained students with her violin, viola and fiddle. Pino performs with several symphonies and has about 50 students. She was at the event as part of the Carolina Chamber music outreach program.
“I love to play but I really love to teach,” Pino said. “They seem to really, really enjoy all the different instruments because I’m showing them a lot of the classical stuff and I’m showing them some folk stuff and then I hand it over to David (English) who shows them more folk and blues and rock, a very wide range of music but they seem to be having fun learning about rhythm and melody.”
Pino met fellow musician David English at last year’s cultural arts day.
“I just think it’s great,” English said. “I teach kids, I teach ukulele in town so anytime you can put a kid with an instrument, you’re always inspiring the next group of musicians coming up. It’s cool to feel like you inspired them in some way at some point early in life.”
English also owns Black Owl Guitars where he builds cigar box instruments.
Fourth-grader Allen Wilson said his favorite part of the day was the athletes or dancers.
“There’s different kinds of art, and you can do different kinds of things in different ways,” Wilson said. “You can have different kinds of cultures; you can be an athlete, an artist or a musician.”
Becca Gover, owner of Dance Theatre, is in her third year volunteering for the special day. “There’s a lot of misconceptions about dance,” Gover said. “Whenever you ask them about styles of dance, all of them say ballet, ballet, ballet, so we’re also here to show them that there’s many forms of dance and that it can look like many different things. It’s not always a tutu and a bun, it’s how you’re feeling, it’s what you’re thinking, it’s so many things.”
Fourth-grader Harvey Brown enjoyed getting his hands in the clay at one of the pottery studios.
“I like how it’s made and how the process goes,” Brown said.
Potter Ben Watford spent 30 years teaching chemistry in Long Island but pottery was always his first love. “When I went to college, I wanted to major in pottery but I also wanted a job, so I majored in chemistry,” Watford said. “The idea for coming in today is to let them just try it, even though it’s sort of painful to watch, but you enjoy seeing them just try to do this. I love it, it’s just a fun thing to do, plus it’s giving back a part of our time, which is what I like to do. I’ve been doing this now for about 50 years.”
Watford’s art is available at the Isaac Taylor Garden and Community Artist Will galleries.
Other artists participating included Peggy Krofchick with watercolors, Jill Eberle with drawing, Jane Horner with painting, Donna Rhein with print-making, Rich Daniels with pottery, Jamie Edwards with jewelry, Aleena Piner with dance and Janet Brice and Janet Kilpatrick with quilting.
Principal Renee Whitford said the day was a great opportunity for the children.
“We’re just amazed and so thankful that the artists do this,” Whitford said. “For several of them this is their third or fourth year doing this, so we appreciate them giving up their time to share with our school family.”