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‘There’s art in everyone’: Every student gets a chance to shine at McVey Elementary’s all-school art show

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The halls of McVey Elementary School were turned into an underwater seascape Thursday night as the school held its first all-school art show.

Blue cloth adorned with silhouettes of sea creatures hung from the ceilings, giving the hallways a blueish tint. Hanging on the walls were nearly 1,000 works of art, all created by McVey students and based on the theme “Under the Sea.”

The massive undertaking was the brainchild of art teacher Jen Greer. She and her students began working on the project in September.

“We’ve been doing artwork every single week,” she said.

All 370 of McVey’s students participated in the art show, and many students had two or three works of art on display. Greer picked grade-appropriate projects for each of her classes, and many involve recycling or upcycling – like using old file folders to create treasure chests.

Kindergarteners made starfish out of quick-dry clay. First-graders made whales out of construction paper, and second-graders used the same technique to make sharks. Third-graders designed starfish and accented them with glitter. Fourth-graders used tooling foil to make shells, crabs or stingrays. Fifth-graders painted surfacing whales and sea turtles.

For the pièce de résistance, students made jellyfish out of old soda bottles and decorated them with glow-in-the-dark paint. Suspended from the ceiling and illuminated with a black light, the glowing jellyfish attracted many admirers Thursday night.

Greer said she came up with the idea of the all-school art show so that every student could get a chance to exhibit his or her work. The Christina School District organizes a district-wide art show each spring, but due to limited space, each school can only choose 35 students to participate.

“I don’t like the idea of that,” Greer said. “Everybody can be an artist. There’s art in everyone.”

The students’ excitement was palpable as she was hanging the art earlier this month.

“The kids were enamored,” she said. “I think it turned out great.”

Parents and other family members were invited to view the art show Thursday night as part of an event that also included refreshments and live music. Greer also sold prints of her own artwork and koala bookmarks created by students as a way to raise money for animals affected by the recent wildfires in Australia.

“Our district doesn’t always get a positive light,” Greer said. “I wanted a positive thing to show how great our district is and how important art is.”

Second-grader Vincent Carletti was all smiles as he showed off his painting of a starfish, as well as art projects involving a crab and a starfish. The crab was his favorite because red is his favorite color.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “I get to show my mom and dad all the artwork.”

Fifth-grader Marley Beach, who participated in the art show along with her little brother, second-grader Eli, agreed.

“It’s really cool to show my family,” she said as she pointed out her painting of a sea turtle. “Everybody else’s art is cool, too. It ties in with everything else.”

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