A view of the South Arkansas Arboretum by the students of Washington Middle School 6th grade Studio Art Class

March 4-28 Lobby Gallery

• Art Reception Thursday, March 20, 5:30-7:00

The original work of Washington Middle School students inspired by a visit to the South Arkansas Arboretum is on display this month in the Lobby Gallery. ARTboretum is really a preview of a bigger Arts In Education project still yet to come. AIE artist Maria Botti Villegas is working with Katie Harwell and her 6th grade Studio Art Class students to create a banner installation at the South Arkansas Arboretum. Part of the collection created for the project is on exhibit along with a series of studies of birds, plants, and flowers rendered in a variety of techniques like pen and ink, pastel, acrylics, and watercolors.

Villegas said, “Last summer I met with Carolane Hays, a member of the Arboretum Committee, to talk about the possibility of creating a project within the Arts In Education program related to the Arboretum, a unique landmark in El Dorado. We envisioned the creation of a series of designs printed on banners to bring children’s art to the Arboretum. The committee was thrilled with the idea of calling attention to the flora and fauna of South Arkansas, as well as creating awareness in our school children of the importance and value of nature so well represented and featured at the site. We chose to work with Washington Middle School, a successful Arts In Education partner for the last six years.”

During October 2013, the students and Villegas visited the facilities of the Arboretum in El Dorado to take pictures. They walked the trails, sat on the benches, got lost on the trails, took pictures, and then sketched the surrounding areas. “We came back to school with a number of drawings and pictures and were very excited about the discovery. In January we started focusing on specific techniques, and the number of works is increasing with every class. It was a hard task to choose pictures for the show, since talent and dedication is present in every piece,” said Villegas. A representative sample of the collection will be on exhibit at SAAC.

Artboretum in the Gallery