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Budding artists' works displayed
Sunflower weaving by Jorge Aguilera, Riley School grade 3 - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

What do SpongeBob SquarePants and Leonardo da Vinci have in common?
Apparently, both are appreciated by elementary students in Great Bend USD 428. Da Vinci’s famous painting, “The Last Supper,” provides a study in perspective. Emilia Diaz, a fifth grader at Jefferson School, used a similar style – long table and all – to create a work of art featuring SpongeBob and his friends from the cartoon that bears his name.
Once again, the Barton County Arts Council is sponsoring the “Watching Young Artists Grow” exhibition of works of art by Great Bend USD 428 elementary and middle school students. It can be seen at the Barton County Historical Society Museum during regular hours until the end of April.
Melissa Watson and Shannon Wedel teach art to elementary students at Eisenhower, Jefferson, Lincoln, Park and Riley schools. They were at the museum Monday afternoon, setting up displays of two- and three-dimensional pieces their students have created during the school year. Works that are inspired by famous works of art, such as Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” or Robert McCall’s space art, are labeled.
Brian Hutchinson, who teaches art at Great Bend Middle School, brought samples of his students’ best work on Tuesday.
Watson and Wedel said elementary art lessons have focused on getting students involved in the community. This year they completed art projects featuring birds, butterflies and frogs for display in the kiosk at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. They also looked at photos of public art in the area, including the Great Bend Mural Project. There are mural cases in front of all five elementary schools, and sixth graders created new murals which have all been installed as of this week.
“Every sixth grader in our district will have participated in it,” Wedel said.
The Barton County Historical Society Museum and Village is located at 85 South U.S. 281, just south of the Arkansas River bridge in Great Bend. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.