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Artist in residence at O.P. Earle

Spartanburg School District One Superintendent Dr. Ron Garner, OP Earle Elementary School Principal Nita High and art educator and Artist in Residence Coordinator Cindy Riddle enjoy a Community Art Evening. (photo submitted)

Art abounds at O.P. Earle Elementary this year as a multitude of artists are scheduled to take up residence in an effort to broaden the artistic scope of its students’ education.

“The Artists in Residence Program provides our students with the opportunity to see different artists and their individual modes of creating art,” said art educator and Artist in Residence Coordinator Cindy Riddle.

Printmaker Jim Creal works with fourth-graders, including Garrett Burrell shown with him here, at O.P. Earle Elementary in Landrum through the school’s Artist in Residency program.

A grant from the Polk County Community Foundation’s Mary F. Kessler Fund recently made it possible for the school to pilot Community Arts Evenings in conjunction with its popular Artist in Residency program.

Riddle said the program creates arts programming and receptions to coincide with local artist exhibits in the school’s gallery. With public performances at the Landrum Library, artist’s residencies and art exhibits, the grant will provide art opportunities that will improve local quality of life.

The Community Art evenings invite students, their parents and community members to visit the school after hours and take in the variety of art forms students have studied. From hand-carved instruments to contemporary dance to fused glass, this program and its participants hope to peak students’ interests.

Jerry Pospisil, the first artist on this year’s roster, infused classrooms at O.P. Earle with vibrant-hued shards of glass.

“Its always fun to see kids learn new skills and they love glass more than most because its kind of like magic for them,” Pospisil said.

He explained to students the techniques and procedures used to fuse glass. He also explained how glass is made and what chemicals are used.

Pospisil said the discovery of glass art looks the same on the face of children as it does on a burgeoning artist.

“The colors and hues and designs you can create are just endless,” he said. “The creativity can go from making tiles, to wind chimes to bowls to glasses … it just goes on and on and on to sculptures.”

Riddle said the program allows students in kindergarten through fifth grade to experience myriad art disciplines, which she said is an essential element of a complete education.

“Through artists residencies students learn so much about themselves and the world of art, thus increasing their knowledge and improving their cognitive skills,” she said.

Some of Riddle’s top students also visited Pospisil and Tryon Arts & Crafts on a Saturday to further their learning in glass art. He said he thinks the program is incredibly enriching for the students and community.

“It brings the community in – and the community is very artistic and involved with the arts as you know,” Pospisil said. “We bring in the younger students and even the high school students who eventually might be able to make use of these art forms. Some kids succeed in different ways – some with their hands, some through books. But exposing them to the arts allows others to celebrate and see their rewards come true through their creativity.”

Principal Nita High said she is thrilled for the school to receive such support.

She said the Foundation has provided thousands in support to the school for special art projects over the years. She said this grant would help students “develop an appreciation for the arts and to help them become consumers of the arts.”

The Spartanburg County Foundation, Patricia Susan Hodge Fund, an EIA grant and an active PTO have also chipped in support for the program.
The latest grant was written to create a new program, Community Arts Evenings, featuring artists in residence that have been working with the students. The school then showcases the artists’ work along with students’ artwork in the principal’s art gallery.

“By utilizing local artists we are able to showcase the role of artists as an important aspect of our community,” Riddle said. “With public performances and art exhibits, the residency program provides opportunities in the arts that will improve the quality of life for all our local citizens.”