CARLSBAD — When Valley Middle School art students started painting for a charitable project, they never expected their work to travel farther than the healing environments it was intended for.
However, those same students recently celebrated the use of their artwork in the most public way yet as part of Carlsbad’s Village Banner Project. A reception was held on Sept. 30 at the Ivanffy-Uhler Gallery, 565 Grand Ave., to celebrate their achievement.
Carlsbad’s Housing and Neighborhood Services and Cultural Arts Office selected eight pieces from a large collection for the banner project, which adds a burst of color to the Village streets.
“There were eight paintings that moved away from the rest of them — that’s the mark of a true artist,” Carlsbad’s Cannon Art Gallery curator of exhibitions Karen McGuire said.
While several artists submitted proposals for use in the Village Banner Project, McGuire and other city staff were so impressed by the work done by Valley Middle’s students that they couldn’t pass it by.
“We thought all of these paintings were really awesome,” McGuire said. “These took someone that is not only technically good, but someone that can paint from the heart.”
Each painting was originally created for the community outreach program, Healing Waters. Artist Gerrit Greve co-founded the program in 1993 that encourages young artists to create pieces that enhance the “healing environment” of health facilities.
With guidance from Greve and Valley Middle School’s art teacher Sue DeWulf, 31 advanced art students painted more than 70 pieces for the project in the spring of 2010.
“It’s not just about expressing yourself,” Greve said. “It’s to communicate feelings of love and caring; what they have done is remarkable.”
Several original paintings have also been auctioned off to raise money for local charities. Valley Middle School’s project successfully raised $5,000 for the Chase Quartarone Scholarship Fund and the Family Health Centers of San Diego.
No longer students at Valley Middle, the eight high school freshmen were extremely surprised to learn that their work had been chosen for the Village Banner Project.
“I didn’t expect this at all; I was shocked but it feels really good to have my piece chosen,” 14-year-old Andres Garcia, now a Carlsbad High School student, said.
Other pieces were chosen from Oscar Bermudez, Sjana Carter, Stephanie Elkins, Samantha Lopez, Katelyn Maddox, Alana Uriel and James Zatrine.
The new Village Banners can be seen along Grand Avenue and will be up for a year, except during the upcoming holidays.
For more information on the Healing Waters project and its accompanying book about the experience, Healing Waters III, visit www.blurb.com.