Photo by Christy Schaper
Children pose at the May art show, with their work hanging behind them. The event was a first for the group, but they plan to make it a recurring activity.
ALTON — If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a group of local students recently buttered up famous artists in the name of education.
In May, artwork reminiscent of renowned artists like Salvador Dali and Claude Monet adorned the interior of a local church as part of an art show. The pieces of art weren’t the originals, but rather artwork done by a group of 15 home-schooled children in the style of famous artists.
“My degree is in art history, so being able to share my love of artists as well as the art they create with children is truly a passion,” Cristalle Turner, the art teacher for the children, said. “It has been so fun to teach this group of kiddos for the past year and be a small part of inspiring their imaginations and sparking a love for a variety of art styles.”
The student artists included mostly grade school-age children, though a few younger and older children participated. The art show served as the culmination of the students’ year, giving them an opportunity to learn and show off their work.
“A lot of times, because we are not following a traditional school curriculum, it’s hard for others to understand what we are doing and learning about at home,” Christy Schaper, a mother who home-schools her children, said. “This was an easy way for parents, friends and family to come and see what the kids have been working on this year in terms of art.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 3 percent of school-age children were home-schooled in the United States as of the 2011-12 school year.
Illinois considers home-schooling a form of private education, according to the Illinois State Board of Education’s website. Home-schooled students must cover “language arts, mathematics, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts and physical development and health” to comply with Illinois’ requirements, the website states.
The reasons parents choose to educate their children at home vary, with some of the most common being religious beliefs or concern about the school environment, but no overarching motivation applies to every home-schooling family.
“Home-schooling, to me, means freedom,” said Jen Seawright, one of the mothers from the group. “Freedom to learn and explore with our children in the real world. My children are free to explore their own interests and talents.”
This year, the students learned about a variety of artists and styles. Turner’s lessons included everything from the surrealism of Salvador Dali, to the abstract works of Jackson Pollack, to the impressionism of Claude Monet.
This was the inaugural show for a group of six home-schooling families, but Schaper said they plan to host more shows in the future after the success this year.
“For us, art and music appreciation just further connects you with the world around you,” Schaper said. “You can really teach all subjects through music or through art, from history to even literature and math.”