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Showing what can be done with grants

Ohio Arts Council visits MCHS, Arts Council

Artist-in-residence Aaron Anslow challenged his students to create clay “five-minute faces” during an Ohio Arts Council visit Friday, Nov. 15 to Monroe Central High School (MCHS).

“There’s not much time to think. That’s what’s good about this project,” Anslow said as he told the students to focus on the main features of eyes, nose, cheekbones and chin.

Jarred Small, arts learning coordinator for the Ohio Arts Council, visited with Anslow as the students worked against the clock.

“They (the students) just have to work fast, not worrying about what they do,” Anslow said. “When they have a week to do it - and evaluate what they’re doing - they’ll think about the details of the head. If you can do it in five minutes, you can do it in a week.”

Small was pleased to see the student’s focus and involvement in the project.

“I’m looking around at these kids,” Small said, “and how much they’re enjoying what they do.”

A TeachArtsOhio grant from the Ohio Arts Council funded Anslow’s second year as artist-in-residence at MCHS.

“We try to connect with our constituents and certainly our grantees,”

Small said of his visit. “There is an effort on the Arts Council’s part to do outreach to the more rural counties in Ohio. (With) all the great work … here (at MCHS) for the past two years now, we thought the time was good to stop by and see what makes Woodsfield so special, quite frankly, and Monroe County in general but certainly here in this school.”

After the five minutes, the teacher and students stood and circled the table to see what each other had done with their clay face sculpture. Then, after returning each chunk of clay to its original egg shape, the class made a second, different, five-minute face.

After another class review, Anslow invited them to notice how much more detail they could add when given seven minutes. Finally, the students had the remainder of the class period to make a quick face sculpture.

“If you saw how the students reacted today,” said Monroe Central Principal Joe Semple, “when he (Anslow) came in, they were all excited. The students were all engaged.”

“It gives them the opportunity to flourish and create,” Semple continued. “To use their minds in a way that you don’t typically use them by sitting in a typical core class. It’s an environment where you can truly be human, and I think that’s the best way to summarize what it’s like being in an art classroom.”

Semple explained that Anslow’s ceramics class gives interested students a chance to specialize in a three-dimensional art medium.

“It (the ceramics program) gives them a more in-depth opportunity,” Semple explained, “to explore a media to its fullest potential. It’s more like the way it is when you go to college. We wanted to prepare our kids that are going to college to study art, and that’s the way it’s structured there.”

During his time in Woodfield, Small also toured the Monroe Arts Council center with arts council President Mick Schumacher and ended at the Monroe Theatre.

Finding opportunities to apply for further grant funding, both in schools and throughout Monroe County, was a key topic throughout the visit.

“There’s this big groundswell of support for the arts,” Small said. “It’s just a lot of good stuff going on.”