Art helps measure schools’ success

Exhibition now open in old GT Library

“Learning is not just reciting
facts from books. Learning is seeing the world around you and sharing it with

That statement by Chief Education
Officer Shirley Wahler could be the subliminal theme of the 2010 National
Children’s Festival of the Arts art and craft exhibition, which opened on
Monday evening in the old George Town Library.

Students from 24 schools, public
and private, Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, created works that, in Mrs. Wahler’s
words, are not only beautiful in themselves but also provide a way of measuring
the success of what is accomplished in our schools and the potential of our
students. Art helps students develop perspective, empathy, awareness and
creativity, she pointed out.

All of those characteristics were
evident in the exhibit, described as amazing by Education Minister Rolston
Anglin. He came early and stayed late to examine the works in detail. Before
declaring the exhibition formally open, he said it was important that
opportunities for creativity be made available to all students. The challenge
for society is to find more ways for students to use their artistic skills when
they go on to join the work force. They should be able to find satisfaction in
applying these skills throughout their lives, he indicated. Mr. Anglin
regretted the presence of so many souvenirs available on-island that come from
overseas while local students are capable of producing high-quality paintings,
drawings and craft pieces.

Certainly the sand-coated bottles,
free-form ceramics and painted tiles would be snapped up by tourists. Many of
the other items could hold pride of place on a home or office wall.

Some of the artwork was based on a
particular technique being studied at the school; some was based on subject
matter such as portraiture or still life. Still others used a multi-media
approach to intensely personal declarations.

Students range from Infant classes
to senior high school.  Part of the
pleasure of attending the exhibition each year is seeing how students develop,
remarked Mary Rodrigues, chief officer in the Ministry of Education.

One collage was particularly
amusing, although most likely unintentionally so. A group of kindergarten
students put together an extraordinarily colourful map of Grand Cayman. Looking
at it, one could only think of the Electoral Boundary Commissioners and how
they might well employ the children’s techniques to illustrate voting

The many people involved in setting
up the display were thanked on Monday by art teacher Chris Mann and festival
organiser Angela McLaughlin. The results of such a major undertaking can be
seen through Friday, 11 June. Hopefully the committee in charge will find
enough volunteer hosts and hostesses to enable visitors to stop in during the
library’s normal hours, 10am to 6pm Monday through Friday, 10am -2pm on

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