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Murray Journal

Twin Peaks’ art show gives students chance to showcase their stories

May 02, 2019 02:20PM ● By Julie Slama

At the Twin Peaks art show, students showcase their artwork from the year, including a collaborative puzzle, which highlights students’ dreams for their future. (Cynthia Micken/Twin Peaks)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When Twin Peaks’ students see Cynthia Micken in the hall, they get excited as they know the Beverley Taylor Sorenson art specialist will be teaching them new techniques or introducing mediums they haven’t tried.

When she enters the room, she calls upon the artists to share their own stories through art.

“They’re young developing artists who have a safe place to create their own artwork and tell their stories,” Micken said. “This is an evening where they can have pride in their artwork and show their contribution to the world in a positive, beautiful way that unites us all.”

Twin Peaks’ third annual art show will begin at 5 p.m., Thursday, May 2 at the school, 5325 S. 1045 East in Murray. Each of the 340 kindergarten through sixth-grade students will have at least one framed piece of artwork on display, with some having other two-dimensional and three-dimensional pieces showcased in the front hall or school hallways. 

The event is free and the public is invited to attend. There will be food trucks available for those wishing to purchase dinner.

In addition to the art on display, in the school multi-purpose room, families can take part in a collaborative art project, where they add their handprint to a collage, and try some scratch art projects, which they can take home.

“When everyone traces their hand and puts their own design within it, it shows the different shapes and sizes in the hands and it shows their individuality, but it also shows how everyone is important in the school. It builds community,” she said.

Earlier in the year, she had upper-grade students include their life goals and dreams in puzzle pieces, which they connected to one another.

“It shows how everyone is a piece of our school and fits into our story,” she said, adding that this artwork will be on display during the art show.

Students were allowed to choose the project that was framed with Granite School District funds earmarked for art programs. Micken has kept art portfolios of each student’s work.

“We talk about presentation as visual arts. It gives them a sense of pride and completion and they’re able to make connections,” she said.

Micken, who taught in elementary schools for 12 years before becoming an art specialist, jumped at the chance to teach art at both Twin Peaks and Copper Hills in Magna. She is one of 32 art specialists in Granite’s 63 elementary schools.

“Art has always been a passion of mine and I’ve used art to connect with kids and help them tell their stories,” she said about what she calls her “dream job.”

Micken also has her art endorsement and is studying for her master’s degree at the University of Utah in art education, where she has learned more about her passion and shares with her students.

The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Learning Program encourages specialists to intertwine the core curriculum with art. 

For Micken, that may be teaching sixth-graders more about ancient civilization, which is in their social studies unit, and having them reinforce their learning by making clay tablets. Or it may be for fourth-graders, who are learning Utah history, to create Navajo clay pots.

“Every project teaches a subject – science, social studies, reading – and brings in the art curriculum with introducing materials and mediums and ties them together,” she said.

For example, fifth-graders may choose to display from among their art projects that bring in American symbols such as the Statue of Liberty when they learned about immigration or artwork illustrating their learning of erosion and how Utah’s natural arches are formed.

“We use colored pencil and crayon and add in sand for texture. Or if we want lightning, we will use glue, allow it to harden, then paint over it to create a stormy sky,” Micken said.

The projects also fit the ability of the students.

For example, as kindergartners learn about shapes, their projects involve creating shapes of their own from putting clear contact paper on paper, then painting over them. Once the contact paper is removed, they discover perfect shapes, she said.

First-graders have the chance to not only learn about animal families and habitats, such as penguins in Antarctica, but also show what they learned in art. Micken guides students to glue tissue paper to create a background of ice, then cut out penguin families to place in their artwork.

“They’re not only reinforcing what they’ve learned in social studies, but also learning art techniques such as background and foreground,” she said.

Second-graders, who learn about communities, may choose a paper weaving project to display or maybe, showcase their own petroglyphs, which they create using their own symbols to illustrate their own stories, after using watercolors to paint the background to look like Utah’s red rocks.

“When they put their own stories in their artwork, it gives them ownership,” Micken said. “I give them the structure to be successful, but also the freedom to tell their stories. It’s important part of why we make art — visual art, dance, music, theater — and to share it with the world.”