Earlier this month, a large crowd eagerly waited in line for the El Monte City School District Cortada School cafeteria doors to open. Upon entry, evidence of the cafeteria was diminished and the beauty of student art was obvious. Tables and walls were adorned with drawings, paintings, sculptures, prints, crafts and photography. All art was for sale, and parents and students had their wallets at the ready. Teacher volunteers Melissa Oliva and Kiby McDaniel served as cashiers.
The idea for the event started last year when sixth grade teacher, Lily Chung learned that March is Art Education month. She thought, “What a great opportunity for our school to implement some art education.” Chung realized that with budget cuts many of the “fun” activities were being eliminated. She thought the student art gallery would be fun for the students and a great way to showcase their talents – not to mention providing a good fundraising opportunity. Chung ran with the idea and it has since flourished into a full scale school wide event complete with student art for sale, a live auction and even some live art.
One example of live art was fifth grader Connie Cheng standing as the Mona Lisa. She was dressed much like the original, complete with that famous Mona Lisa smile. Standing next to her was the official Mona Lisa historian, Ayumi Tran. Tran effectively orated many interesting facts about the Mona Lisa. Among the facts Tran included, “The painting was done by Leonardo da Vinci who also painted The Last Supper.” She went on to say, “The Mona Lisa is one of the most written about and the most sung about art in the world.” As Tran spoke, it was evident that her Mona Lisa model, Cheng, was proud to be associated with such a famous painting.
The student run art auction proved to be quite popular with many pieces of art going for large sums of money. Clearly the crowd was into it as some bidding wars ensued.
Chung’s vision of wanting to bring art education to students and for students to experience the thrill of selling a piece of art was definitely realized at this event. Chung said, “Some students contributed art work and others helped out by setting up and working the event. Others who wanted to support the event also had a chance to purchase an ‘I am an Artist’ t-shirt. This allowed students to participate in different ways.”
The great idea that sparked in Lily Chung’s head will hopefully translate into many years of art exploration for Cortada students. Art is alive at Cortada School.