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VISUAL ARTS OFFER ‘TACTILE LEARNING’

March 9, 2018

By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools

Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough is as much an educator as he is a renowned historian.

He also happens to be an advocate for hands-on learning environments.

“The great thing about the arts is that you can only learn to do it by doing it,” he was famously quoted as saying.

Oakland High School’s fine arts instructor, Frank Baugh, agrees with McCullough’s statement.

Baugh said the study of fine arts is a different type of learning.

It’s more than reading a book and taking a test.

The arts — whether it be music, performance or visual — is tactile learning.

“It’s one of those subject areas,” Baugh added, “you can observe people doing it all you want and you can read about it all you want, but until you get your hands in the process of it and you are reacting to that process, you don’t really understand it.

“That’s why I love teaching it. You get to open people’s eyes to that experience.”

Baugh and the other fine arts instructors from Rutherford County Schools are opening themselves up to the community on the evening of March 15 when they host the first-ever All-County Art Showcase at Thurman Francis Arts Academy at 7 p.m.

Students and their respective instructors will begin arriving at 3 p.m.

“This is the first year we’ve done it this way,” said Baugh, who described the new format as being more interactive for everyone involved.

Arts students can sign up for one-on-one portfolio reviews with MTSU art faculty as well as attend workshops led by local artists from Murfreesboro.

Students will have an opportunity to learn new techniques, attend a panel discussion with college art students, and also view the work of other local artists.

A free show will be held in the evening for family, friends, educators and the general public.

The showcase, which Baugh termed a “cool idea,” is similar to the other all-county showcases that have been featured in this year’s Fine Arts Honors Series.

“That’s Mrs. Halford’s vision,” continued Baugh, referring to RCS Fine Arts Coordinator Lindsay Halford, “is to have a connection there to music and drama as well as the visual arts.”

Halford’s goal with the series is to strengthen the connection between arts education and the local community.

And she is hoping Thursday’s final showcase of the four-part series will be equally visible.

“Visual arts can be overlooked because the personalities can be a little more introverted sometimes,” Baugh said. “We’re not performers the way musicians and the dramatic arts are, but it makes you feel valued.”

This week’s fine art showcase and last week’s recognition of visual arts by the Rutherford County School Board were both scheduled in conjunction with the annual National Youth Art Month.

Although this is the first year RCS has hosted an All-County Art Showcase, it’ll the 11th year each of the 47 schools in the district are displaying some of their students’ best work at the RCS central office.

All the art presenters for the event at Thurman Francis are made up of 50 high school students from across the district. Halford said they hope to expand the format in future years to include other grade levels.

Thursday’s event will conclude with the “Best in Show” awards, which recognizes first place, runner up and honorable mentions. That presentation will begin at 7:45 p.m. with a trio of local artists — Cody Hale, Phyllis Razo and Diane Stockard — serving as judges for the students’ artwork.

PHOTO / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT