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Murray High “Second Generation” ArtsFest Involves More Students

Oct 08, 2015 11:24AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Julie Slama

After originating and overseeing a decade of the 11-year-old Murray High ArtsFest, organizer and Spanish teacher Audra Kasparian turned the reins this year over to committee member Anna Lewis, who introduced a few changes for the 12th annual event, including having students organize several booths and be more involved in the arts festival.

“The arts show became more collaborative and we looked at all the different aspects involved in it,” Lewis said. “We had students in charge of almost every booth. They demonstrated responsibility in planning their activities, showing up, interacting with participants as they ran the booth and breaking it down. It’s exhausting, but the students love it and want it and care to showcase and perform their talent and see what their peers are doing.”

Lewis split the duties along with Parent-Teacher Association ArtsFest coordinator Becky Powell, with Lewis working with students and Powell coordinating outside vendors, including artists and food vendors.

Other changes to the annual art show that was held May 22 included moving the wood-working students and their masterpieces to the center of the art show area to highlight their talent, Lewis said. They replaced the area where fine arts — ceramics, drawings, paintings — were, and that discipline was moved inside so “teachers could relax in case of wind, rain or other weather factors, since they can’t replace student artwork,” she said.

Also new were booths offering quilt tying and painting a mosaic mural for the community, and the inclusion of the citywide storytelling festival. 

The storytelling festival, coordinated by Murray City cultural arts director Mary Ann Kirk, included about 30 local finalists and four professional storytellers who took the stage. Finalists were selected to participate in the city festival from about 900 participants who took part in storytelling workshops at schools, Murray Library and senior centers. 

Some other booths included trying the pottery wheel, tying survival bracelets, creating tie-dyed shirts, learning computer games, learning how to Hula, having a caricature drawn, learning how to curl your hair, making jewelry, participating in the drive-a-nail contest and many other activities. There was also a 5K fun run and many performers — singers, instrumentalists, dancers — taking the stage.

Students could participate for fun or take the “Quest at the Fest” challenge where, after completing an activity, they could get their card stamped at the booth. There were prizes for as little as two stamps to the grand prize for 12 stamps.

Tenth grader Emily Bahr was tying quilts with her friends after she finished the National Guard obstacle course.

“I’ve never tried this before, but it’s really fun,” she said. “It’s a fun day being outside with everyone.”

Student body sophomore chair Shalese Evertsen said that the Murray (High) Association of Girls, or MAG group, wanted to have a creative booth but also give back to the community. When their adviser suggested something with material, since they had some available, it seemed a natural conclusion to make a few quilts for Primary Children’s Medical Center, she said.

Cassidy Waite, who has attended the ArtsFest for the past few years even though she’s a student at Liberty Elementary, said she comes to support the arts, the school and have fun with her mom, little sister Camryn, and friends.

“I just love it; it’s so much fun,” she said as she was getting on props for her picture to be taken in a photo booth with her friend, Hailey Heyborne.

“I love art and like to do pottery with my aunts,” Hailey said. “There’s something here that everyone loves.” 

Tenth grader Alayna Graham had her portrait drawn by artist Clinton Whiting.

“They looked so awesome, I decided to have mine drawn,” she said. “I plan to show it to my mom. She’ll love it.”

Whiting’s six-year-old son, Abe, was spray-painting on a mural that will be given to charity.

“I love the wide variety of experiences that bring people together to see different art and to have fun trying new things,” Visual Art Institute art instructor Kristin Sumbot said. “This is a great opportunity for the community and the school to come together for this experience in the arts.”

Community education ceramics teacher Jeremy Wright introduced students and community members to three pottery wheels, where students tried to make pots and vases.

“This gives students a greater appreciation of art and they are much more aware of the art in our community,” he said.

Former organizer Kasparian said that the new tradition, or “second generation” of the ArtsFest, was a success.

“Students are more inspired, more involved and it’s a great end-of-the-year celebration for students to see their achievements being admired by their peers in a relaxed, community setting,” she said. “Everyone here shines and can offer their talents.” 

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