The USC Fisher Museum of Art opened Through the Lens, an exhibit that showcases artwork of elementary school students from USC’s Family of Schools, on Wednesday.
It is the third exhibit for Art in the Village, a visual arts outreach program that encourages local elementary school students to create art in the classroom. Funded in part by a USC Neighborhood Outreach Grant, the program also displays some of the artwork in the University Village Shopping Center.
Students who submitted artwork for consideration in the exhibit were required to create a work of art as if they were a camera, capturing the different ways we use photography. A jury of USC students judged the artworks created by the elementary school students and the top picks were recognized and awarded at the opening reception. The artwork is on display to the public at the University Village Food Court until March 30.
Vanessa Jorion, the Fisher Museum education and program coordinator, said Art in the Village was created 10 years ago to bring more arts into the USC Family of Schools. Every year, Art in the Village provides art lessons and quality art supplies for teachers to incorporate into their classrooms so students can express their creativity.
“Art in the Village provides an outlet for students who really need it,” Jorion said. “The program has given a lot of kids confidence. A lot of students may not necessarily be excelling in math or English, but they may be excelling at art.”
Jorion said the program has not only provided students with a necessary creative avenue but has gotten them to interact with the outside community.
“The program allows students to put their art on display for others in the community to look at and receive,” Jorion said. “The community is able to read what the students write about their artwork, and this boosts their confidence. It’s what students need because, without the arts, they are not getting this reinforcement.”
Teachers in the USC Family of Schools also said this program is an integral part of the students’ creative development.
Eugene Timiraos, the fourth-grade teacher at 32nd Street USC Magnet School, said the exhibit allows students to appreciate their work and reflects USC’s impact in the community.
“This exhibit is an example of how USC is to the surrounding community and my respect for USC has only continued to grow,” Timiraos said. “The recognition it gives to kids in the local schools is wonderful. To have their artwork exhibited like this — kids begin to realize how special their work is.”
Taj Henry, a second-grade student at the Dr. Theodore T. Alexander, Jr. Science Center School was excited to share his artwork with his family and friends.
“I drew a picture inspired by Legos and blocks,” Henry said. “With art, I get to draw or write or picture anything I want. It makes me feel good and I am happy that my family is here to see it.”
Parents of the students who were chosen said the program provides an opportunity for the community to get together and support the family of schools.
“I know that my son is proud to be able to represent his school here,” said Randal Henry, Taj’s father. “It’s nice to see a cohesive, multi-school presence unified in children’s development.”
Alma Carillo, whose son has a piece in the show, said the program instills their children with a sense of excitement for the arts.
“My son came home very excited after he found out that he was chosen,” Carillo said. “Adrian can be quiet and keep to himself, so it is so special to be able to see what he wrote about his piece, and I am happy that other kids get to see it too. He wanted us to be able to see it … and to have his award up for everyone to see is very special.”
The program is one reflection of the larger partnerships USC has with the neighborhood.
“The exhibits allow the community to see what’s going on in the neighborhood school,” Jorian said. “The artwork livens up the space and brings a lot of people from the community together.”