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Oxford School District to host first district art show

Oxford Schools will host their first district-wide art show next month at the Powerhouse.

The art show, organized by OHS art teachers Duran and Ebony Johnson, will premier on March 5 and run through March 27. The husband-and-wife team say the art show is an opportunity for the community to see the progression the art program has made over the past few years.

“For the past three years, the art teachers have been working really hard to groom and grow the kids, but we’ve never had a grand showcase where everything is on display for the community,” Ebony said. “It’s an exhibition of the best of the best. We’re bringing in ceramics, painting, photography, drawing and graphic design.”

The showcase will feature work from students in kindergarten through grade 12, something Duran said will showcase the evolution of student skills over the course of their schooling.

From the high school, almost 150 pieces will be selected. Narrowing down the students’ work is the hardest part, Duran said.

“It’s not just the skill we’re looking for because we have a lot of students that are producing excellent work,” Duran said. “Because we’re showing everybody, we have to be selective. To minimize it down to 150 pieces is difficult, because there are so many more high-quality pieces than that.”

Ebony said one of the things she and her husband teach their students, aside from technical ability, is the concept of art as a communication tool.

“If you think about where we are in society, the national issues, regional issues, social issues, sexual issues or anything these teenagers are dealing with that really has a voice and speaks, that’s more the works that are going to be selected,” Ebony said. “It’s so important for them to get their voice out and to use this as a language, to speak about the unspoken.”

Ebony, a board member of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, said the art show is also a chance to show parents and the community how fortunate the art programs at OSD are, and the importance of letting their children start developing their artistic skills at an early age.

“We’ve been to several states, and there aren’t many public schools that teach graphic design, drawing, photography,” Ebony said. “Thank God for the Oxford School District Foundation, because they give grants every year. We’re able to give our students a $700 camera to check out, with tripods and lenses. These are things that should not be taken for granted.”

The Johnsons said they want to show students and parents the versatility and success that can come from a background in the arts. They even go as far as opening their classrooms on Saturdays to give their students a place to work.

“We have students who are photographers and take portraits and have savings accounts bigger than mine. That’s a true testament to what we have as a district,” Ebony said. “There are some great and wonderful things happening in the art department as a whole for the school district, and I really want the parents to jump on board and take advantage of it.”