National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day

Hartford Elementary 2nd grader Josie Lutter works on her art project. Lutter explains what she likes about art is getting to make stuff along with getting dirty and messy. (Photo/Submitted)

Sara Stadem | Editor

What is art? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines art as something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.
January 31 is National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day. This is a day that is meant to bring awareness to the importance of all art forms in everyday life, according to
There are many different art forms. Art can be in the form of painting or sculptures. It can also be literature, music or film. Whatever the art form, art has a vast ability to affect people’s everyday life. Whether it’s looking at a beautiful building that was built by an architect or listening to a song that touches your soul and brings you to tears, art can be a very powerful tool.
With National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day around the corner, we are going to take a look into our art teachers and students at Tri-Valley and West Central School Districts to see what inspires and creates their passion for art.
The grade school students at Tri-Valley, Hartford and Humboldt Elementary took the time to answer a few questions about their art class.
What has been your favorite art project this year and why?
Tri-Valley 2nd graders:
Weston Hemme: “This one now (drawing a fox with scenery) because we are doing a sky, snow and trees with a fox on it. I like it because it looks pretty.”
Annora Wochnick: “I like this one too because foxes are my favorite animal.”
Madyn Bucher: “The glasses we made with a candle because it was fun to do.”
Hartford 2nd graders:
Josie Lutter: “Fiber Arts, because I get to sew. I like sewing.”
Ernest Kohrs: “When we got to draw from memory and draw our favorite Christmas present. I like to share my drawing with everyone.”
Humboldt 5th graders:
“I really liked the animal collage.”
“My favorite project was when we made the animals with scrap paper and painted them.”
“The animal that we just did, the animal collage.”
What do you like best about art?
Tri-Valley 2nd graders:
Weston Hemme: “I like the painting in art.”
Annora Wochnick: “I like that we get to make stuff out of paint.”
Madyn Bucher: “The drawing part because I like to color after.”
Hartford 2nd graders:
Josie Lutter: “We get to make stuff and get dirty and messy.”
Ernest Kohrs: “I like fiber arts the best and I like how I get to choose what I can make in the art room.”
Humboldt 5th graders:
“I like art because I can express my feelings and my personality by what I draw.”
“I also like how Mrs. Nester is always really fun and takes time to explain what we are doing and how to do it. I like when we learn about artists. She always tells about them in a funny way.”
“My favorite thing about art is getting to make sure new things and really cool projects that I can’t do at home.”
High school students at West Central and Tri-Valley also explained what draws them into their art projects.
What has been your favorite art project this year and why?
West Central high school students:
Griffin Stallman, junior, Photography class: “My favorite art project I have done this year was the pointillism project. In this project, we used an ink pen to create a drawing of an object. I am an aviation enthusiast, so I drew an aircraft for my pointillism project. It was very relaxing to poke little dots onto a canvas for an hour at a time.”
Mara Schultz, freshman, Art II: “My favorite art project this year so far was pointillism. Pointillism is an art technique using small dots to create a picture. I really liked this project because it was a unique way of creating something. You could also be creative with it using different colors and different size dots.”
Avery Nothdurft, freshman, Art II: “My favorite project so far has either been my pointillism or charcoal projects. These are my favorite because of the patience and attention to detail that I had to put into both. For both of these projects I had to learn and master the skill as I was creating the piece.”
Adelynn Loof, junior, finished Art III: “My favorite art piece I created this year was a toucan drawn with crayons. I really enjoyed using a different medium than regular pencil. It adds more of a challenge and a new element of fun to the project.”
Tri-Valley high school students:
Carly Ripkenbaugh, freshman, Art I: “I think the portrait project was my favorite to work on so far, mostly because of how it turned out. You could pick anyone to draw and I chose a celebrity to draw. I picked Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. I used color pencils so that I could make it as realistic looking as I could.”
Isaac Nelich, sophomore, Art I: “My favorite has been the imagination project and that’s because it gives you the artistic freedom to do whatever you think of. Right now, I am working on a drawing and will use color pencils after drawing it and it will be Mickey Mouse with the face of Shrek.”
Hayden Hastings, sophomore, Art I: “I like the imagination project the best so far because you really can choose whatever you want and whatever you feel like expressing, you can make that your art.”
Abby Wagner, freshman, Art I: “I like the architecture one because it’s the one that turned out the best for me along with the portrait one. I had the most fun with the portrait project. I drew a face with oil pastels and over top of it, I glued newspapers down on it. Then used water colors and made it look vintage and like the face was coming out of the page.”
What do you like best about art?
West Central high school students:
Griffin Stallman, junior, currently taking Photography class: “What I like best about art is the ability to express my interests on paper. I do not pride myself on my drawing skills but I felt that I had fun and did my best to show off my talents. I really enjoy 3D art, like modeling and in photography, we get to do just that.”
Mara Schultz, freshman, Art II: “Art is one of my favorite classes because it allows you to express yourself and your ideas. You also have a lot of free will in projects. In art class it lets me relax and take my focus off stressful stuff.”
Avery Nothdurft, freshman, Art II: “I like art class because I get to express myself and make each project my own.”
Adelynn Loof, junior, finished Art III: “I enjoy making something new and having complete creative freedom over what I create.”
Tri-Valley high school students:
Carly Ripkenbaugh, freshman, Art I: “My favorite part of art is that it is fun to work on and I like how things turn out.”
Isaac Nelich, sophomore, Art I: “My favorite part of art is the freedom to work on your stuff and not have too many guidelines or limitations to follow, getting to express yourself.”
Hayden Hastings, sophomore, Art I: “My favorite part of art are the memories I make with my friends and it’s really fun just being able to get away from all of the other classes.”
Abby Wagner, freshman, Art I: “My favorite thing about art is the freedom of it. We can do whatever we want most days when it comes to our projects and creativity.”
Now, in order to inspire the students to create masterpieces and to want to continue to grow and express their artistic abilities, students need teachers with the same love and passion for the arts.
Between Tri-Valley and West Central, these schools have 95 years combined experience in the arts they hold within their art teachers!
Humboldt Elementary Art teacher Ellen Nester has been teaching art at West Central for 13 years. According to Nester, her grandpa is the one that planted the seed that he thought she should become a teacher. In order to keep her students engaged, Nester believes there are many fantastic resources to be used now for art projects such as blogs, Facebook groups, Pinterest and many projects that Nester creates on her own. “Now the problem is trying to decide which ones we get to use!” Nester explained. Although she is unable to determine what some of the most popular projects are since she changes them from year to year, Nester said painting is always a huge hit with her students. “It is all about how excited I am to do it with them. If I am excited… they love it, too!” Nester said. “We did a big animal collage this year with 5th grade that I’ve been wanting to do and it was a huge hit!” Nester also explained they do a large George O’Keeffe flower projects with chalk and glue in 4th grade which was a popular choice. As far as Nester’s favorite for teaching, she loves teaching students about the artists and incorporating projects with it. Nester explained she tries to display her student’s art work from all grades throughout the building for students and staff to enjoy. When asked what makes her passionate about art and teaching, Nester said, “Art is accessible to all. It is open to interpretation and opinion.” She continued, “There is no right or wrong answer, kids need that, we all need that. Just create, see what happens and enjoy the process. The amount of creative problem solving that happens in that art room will benefit them in every aspect of their education.” Nester said, “Some of my brightest artists have been students that struggle with the regular academic workload, so in the art room they have this place to SHINE!!! I get to work with kids and watch them do things and make art that they never knew they could! I am so very thankful that the WC school district recognizes the importance of the arts.”
Tri-Valley Elementary Art teacher Maria Kendle has been building art at Tri-Valley since 1998 for grades JK-6th grade. When asked what inspired her to become an art teacher, Kendle said she has always loved creating whether it was art, crafts, photography or sewing. She explained she cannot imagine not having a creative outlet and hopes she assists her students in finding their artistic talents and passions. “It’s really something they can enjoy for a lifetime, plus there’s so many ways to make a living with creativity anymore,” Kendle said. Although Kendle has her favorite projects, she said she is thankful that the school has a Kiln for every grade level to have the opportunity to make something out of clay as Kendle feels it’s more lasting than paper projects, if it makes it home in their bags! According to Kendle, she does have “stand-bys” that her students feel are a rite of passage but she is always looking for new, fun ideas. Kendle honors her students by displaying their hard work throughout the halls of the school. Now with a four-day school week with students, Kendle has students in about seven or eight classes, about 160 students total, her days can seem a little crazy. However, Kendle thinks it is worth it. “For me, I love it when the kids feel successful or when you can tell they like what they’ve created.”
Hartford Elementary Art teacher Brenda Sosa has been creating art with students at West Central for the past 14 years. Sosa explained her first major in college was accounting but after working as a bookkeeper for a local business in Sioux Falls in addition to her accounting courses, she realized that working behind a desk, crunching numbers wasn’t for her. “My first passions have always been working with children and creating art. So, I decided to change my major to art education and purse my passion!” Sosa said. There are several factors that Sosa takes into consideration when determining what to teach her students, such as local and state standards, natural child development and students’ interests. Some of the most popular projects for Sosa in her classroom with her students are the stitching project and the papier Mache animals and clay. Sosa displays her student’s talents and creativity down the long hallway near her classroom, Sosa explained. She also displays the art work in other hallways throughout the school building and entry of the school for students and staff to appreciate. In addition to this, Sosa said she shares art digitally through Artsonia, their online art gallery and art classroom fundraiser. When asked, Sosa explained she is passionate about art and teaching because “I love to make art and love to share my passion for art making with students.” She concluded, “I love to encourage student creativity and hear all of their beautiful, unique and creative ideas.”
Tri-Valley Middle and High School Art teacher Mandy DeWitt has been educating students at Tri-Valley about art for 22 years. Her high school art teacher told DeWitt she thought DeWitt would be a great art teacher. When it comes to choosing her art lessons for her students, DeWitt explained she has a teaching style called “choice based” which means she gives a theme or a prompt to her students and they can create a work of art any way they want as long as they can connect it back to the prompt that they are working on. Right now, her classroom is working with the prompt “Imagination,” DeWitt explained. Some of the most popular projects with her high school students include the ceiling tiles, although she thinks that may have changed to the mediums project with her new style of teaching. “I personally love watercolor,” DeWitt said. “That is my medium of choice but I love that the students get to bring their own ideas and techniques to my class and to see where those backgrounds take them.” The art student’s in Tri-Valley middle school and high school have their art work displayed in the front display case in the commons, occasionally canvasses on the wall and another case by the girl’s locker-room, according to DeWitt. As for DeWitt’s passion for art and love for teaching, “I love to help students find their creativity and to help them step outside of their comfort zones to try something different,” she said. DeWitt concluded, “I love the emotion and storytelling that happens in art and how art can be a type of therapy.”
West Central Middle and High School Art teacher David Tuch has rolled into his 22nd year of creating with students at West Central. Tuch was inspired to become an art teacher because he liked to share his skills with students being creative and expressing themselves. Tuch explained he likes a variety of projects for his classrooms such as drawing skills along with being creative and giving the students a taste of different mediums. Popular projects in Tuch’s room include the puzzle picture which is when Tuch takes a drawing and divides it into four pieces. According to Tuch, students have a piece of a drawing and they set up a grid and then draw their picture twice the size and put it together with the other three students working on proper size, shape and shading to form a complete picture. The pointillism is another project favorite, Tuch explained along with clay creating cups, bowls and other 3-D shapes adding glazes to their projects and seeing how they turn out after being fired in the Kiln. Tuch’s middle school students enjoy perspective letters in which students like to use their names or something they are interested in creating dept in their letters. Tuch enjoys teaching the students a wide variety of art, according to Tuch, such as how to draw working on proper sizes, shapes and shading. He also teaches one- and two-point perspective which helps the students in drawing buildings in which they learn proper angles and shapes. Tuch displays the talents of his high school students in the commons area along with the display case by the high school office. The middle school student’s art work is displayed in the 6th grade hallway and also by the front door of his art room. When asked about his passion for art and love for teaching, Tuch said, “I have always loved art and it is really great when I have a student excited about the art work they have created.”
Whether the art that moves you is a museum of sculptures, or a gallery of photography, maybe it’s taking in an orchestra or finding mountains to paint or something else; whatever it is that inspires you, be sure to step out during National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day and take some time to appreciate all the forms of art.