‘A flood of creativity’

Local art event to benefit Tropical Storm Irene victims

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff


Williston Central School fifth-graders Alli Selwah (left) and Olivia Werner (right) collaborate on a hanging mobile for ‘Art Storm,’ a charity event that will take place at Champlain Valley Union High School on March 14 to benefit flood victims of Tropical Storm Irene. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

Art students across the Chittenden South Supervisory Union have been creating up a storm in preparation for a charity event at Champlain Valley Union High School on March 14.

“Art Storm,” a statewide program sponsored by the Vermont Art Teachers Association, has been adopted at the CSSU level as a way for area youths to make a creative contribution to Tropical Storm Irene flood relief.

Liz Demas, an art teacher at Williston Central School, said the unifying theme of the project is water droplets.

“The idea was inspired by the raindrop shape, and that’s the inspiration for all the art projects that you’ll see at this event,” Demas said. “It’s been really a labor of love with a lot of these kids.”

The water droplet theme was the brainchild of Rebbie Carleton, an art teacher at Randolph Elementary School.

“I proposed to the Vermont Art Teachers Association that we do a project that I had started already in my school, which was making water droplets to create a flood of creativity to help our neighbors,” said Carleton. “Kids have amazing hearts and they want to help people in whatever way they can, and using their creativity to change the world and change their communities is something that’s really easy to get kids involved in.”

Carleton said that while the artistic theme for the project is consistent across the state, it was left to the discretion of individual communities to choose where to allocate charitable donations.

“Different communities have different needs, so my students donated to the Food Shelf. Other places donated to farmers. So it was kind of where people felt the need in their community,” Carleton said.

Schools under the CSSU umbrella – including Williston Central and Allen Brook schools – will donate all proceeds from the March 14 event to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, a charity administered by the United Way. Although there will be no set price for the ceramic plates, necklaces, hanging mobiles and other raindrop-inspired artwork, a donation of $5 per item is suggested.

Allen Brook art teacher Sarah Beeken said her students have responded enthusiastically to the charitable aspect of the project.

“One girl said to me: ‘I’ve never made a donation to anything before. This is really exciting,’” Beeken recalled.

Erika White, a Williston resident who teaches art at Shelburne Community School, also observed that students have latched onto the idea of using art to give back to the community.

“It’s been great. (Students) are very excited to be able to do something to help the community,” said White. “They can make a piece of artwork and donate it to a greater cause, so they’re very excited about being able to help.”

Art Storm will take place March 14 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Champlain Valley Union High School cafeteria. Refreshments will be offered.