Noblesville Elementary Students Share Artwork

White River Elementary first-grader Dallas Mitchell smiled as he pointed to his self-portrait on display at Nickel Plate Arts in downtown Noblesville.

He’s playing basketball in the self-portrait artwork that he created during school art class. His artwork is among more than 250 pieces of students’ art on display through March in an exhibit showcasing Noblesville Schools elementary art at the Nickel Plate. 

I stopped in at the exhibit’s open house for school families and the community on Wednesday evening. About 600 people attended the reception, said Aili McGill, Nickel Plate’s executive director.

All of Noblesville elementary schools — Hazel Dell, Hinkle Creek, Noble Crossing, North, Promise Road, Stony Creek and White River — participated, and the teachers included artwork from all grade levels.

The Noblesville elementary schools have displayed work at the Nickel Plate every year since the center opened more than 10 years ago, said Promise Road Elementary art teacher Darlene Patterson, who was the main point of contact for the district’s art teachers for this exhibit. 

Visiting the art show brought back memories of when my own daughter, now 15, displayed her artwork when she was a student at both North and Stony Creek elementaries.

Patterson loves seeing all of the students’ artwork from all of the elementaries.

“Joy shows in their creations,” Patterson said. “Showing their work at Nickel Plate Arts center is a wonderful way to share their creativity with their families and the community and bring joy to all who see the artwork.”

During the COVID, in 2020, the artwork was hung and the opening artists reception took place just days before the school district shifted to digital learning and the world shut down. 

In 2021, the show went virtual. “That was fine but not nearly as joyous as seeing the smiling faces of the artists when they come to the opening event and see their work on display at the Nickel Plate Arts center,” Patterson said. 

And there were definitely many young smiling faces proudly showing their families their artwork.

“Often, the artists will make a full evening of the open-house celebration. They dress up, go out to dinner with their families and celebrate their talents,” Patterson said.

Each elementary art teacher tries to select about 30 to 40 2-D images and usually there are additional 3-D works, she said. “Multiply that by the number of elementaries in our district, and it is easily 300 to 350 works of art in the show.”

She said, “The art teachers marvel at the large number of works of art that can fit on the walls and in the gallery.”

It’s important to have school art shows like this, Patterson said. “By having art shows and displays of our students’ work, we have a way of sharing the creativity and hard work the artists put into their masterpieces. Art shows are a way for the art teachers to feature the talents and lessons learned throughout the school year as they teach the state art standards and build creativity.”

Les Reinhardt, the Nickel Plate’s operations manager, coordinated the exhibit, working with Patterson, who communicates to the district’s six other elementary art teachers.

“She and I meet to discuss options for when to have an exhibit, when to hang the show, when to hold the reception and how the show gets returned to the schools,” Reinhardt said. “Once we set the dates, we discuss what items can be used to hang the art, and what the needs are of each school regarding what they need to display.”

Patterson discusses everything with the group of teachers, and the next step is the installation.

“The teachers come in with their students’ work. They already have them mounted and labeled, they divvy up the gallery and hang their own art. During the course of the exhibit, I make sure the art is in good condition and everything is looking great when the gallery is open,” Reinhardt said.

“The teachers are the unsung heroes of this exhibit, each one of them taking personal time to make this exhibit happen: mounting the artwork, labeling, hanging each piece, bringing in treats for the reception. It truly shows how much they care about the importance of creative expression and their devotion to their students.”

Reinhardt said, “The artwork is bright, colorful, surprising and expressive. I definitely enjoy seeing the students’ work and hope that they continue creating.”

– Contact Betsy Reason at  Noblesville High School literary magazine club has work on display now, also, with a public reception set for March 21. The club’s reception scheduled in February was postponed due to weather.