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There once was a time when a child’s schoolwork would only make it to the refrigerator door, or perhaps a school-wide exhibit before being stored away in their family’s memory box.
Not any more.
Michelle Grove, an art teacher at Los Alamos Middle School, has found a way to get her students’ work out there so people all over the world can see it.
Teaming up with the website “Artsonia.com,” Grove has been posting her students’ work to the site since 2012.
Los Alamos Middle School has 1,227 pieces of artwork on the site. Billed as “the largest kids’ museum online,” the site also acts as a repository for lesson plans as well as a social media hub where visitors can vote, comment and financially support the school of their choice through the purchase of a student’s artwork.
Through the site, visitors can order up holiday cards, mouse pads mugs and other items featuring a picture of the work. The website also says 20 percent of the proceeds from each sale go back into the middle school’s arts program.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt said it’s quite easy to be enthusiastic about what’s going on at the middle school art department.
“It’s exciting to see she has the initiative to display the student’s artwork beyond the borders of Los Alamos. In fact, I went on the site to vote for the student’s art work,” Schmidt said.
Currently, Los Alamos Middle School is the third in New Mexico when it comes to participation in the website and number two when it comes to fan club signups. For participation, Artsonia honored Grove with its “Leadership Award” for helping students get their works beyond the classroom wall, as well as for fostering parent and community involvement in arts education.
Los Alamos Middle School Principal Rex Kilburn said he is very proud of the school’s art department, offering praise to Grove as well as fellow teacher Karen Trynthall. However, he added that when Grove came to him with the idea, he was a little hesitant, citing security concerns.
“I was a little skeptical at first when she brought the idea to me,” he said. “I was thinking about who is going to be able to see this, the kid’s names, all that security stuff. But I felt very secure, once she explained to me how it works.”
Kilburn said he also liked the idea for the exposure it brings the school.
“When given the right access family members, and relatives across the world can view the kids’ artwork. That’s very exciting,” Kilburn said.
If you go to the site, located at artsonia.com, prepare to spend some time on there, because all of the student artwork, whether that be sculpture or painting, is pretty mesmerizing. If the site didn’t label itself as a place for “kids” artwork you’d probably have a hard time figuring that out. You can imagine any one of these pieces on your living room wall or a nice piece for your office.
Grove has several mediums posted up there, including molas, aboriginal dot paintings as well as several types of sculpture. What she most likes about the site is that it acts as a bridge between school and home. It’s a great way to let parents know what their kids are doing in school. They, as well as anybody can go online and comment about the artwork if they wanted to.
“It’s almost like a sharing that’s going on between home and school,” Grove said. “Parents know and see what the students are making in the classroom as soon as they are finished making it.”
Grove said she uses the site as a teaching tool, too. Since the artwork remains on the site indefinitely, she can use it as a reference library to mark student progress as well as teach them new mediums.
Currently the students are working on “story wheels,” wheels of yarn woven to tell a student’s story.