Organization displays items for fundraiser

ELKINS – For 22 years, concerned artists, teachers, residents, parents and students have gathered to provide art experiences for Randolph County students through the Artsbank Program. The Artsbank Auction, the group’s main fundraiser, is slated for 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Elks County Club in Elkins.

On Thursday, volunteers gathered at the Jennings Randolph Federal Building lobby to create a display of items to be offered at the auction.

Art education in Randolph County in elementary schools was eliminated 26 years ago. Artsbank was created to help fund having artists in the schools to offer students experience in painting, drawing, pottery, ballet, song writing, collage-making, quilting, square dancing, puppetry, graphic arts, printmaking, poetry and movement.

Local artists and businesses donate items to be sold in a silent auction and grand auction during the event, which also offers attendees a dessert bar. Items in the silent auction will include paintings and home-made foods, and grand auction items will include a guitar, artwork, memberships and sporting tickets.

“Normally the auction brings in between $12,000 to $15,000,” said Scottie Wiest, president of ArtsBank Council.

Wiest said a new offering at this year’s auction will be a “buy it now” category, along with the traditional silent auction and grand auction. Monies from the auction help defray the cost of art supplies and provide stipends for local artists who teach art in Randolph County schools.

Sarah Ferguson, from Philippi, is an Artsbank instructor in Randolph County schools. She said her curriculum this year includes an artistic trip around the world for her students, combining learning with art.

“I am teaching at Coalton, George Ward and Homestead Elementary schools,” Ferguson said. “So far my students have created passports, made watercolor butterflies from South America, made Mexican mirrors, made Ojo De Dios weavings, made stained glass inspired Shrinky Dinks, carved African designs out of soap, made Asian batiks out of paper, made African masks and made North American totem poles.”

Ferguson said she is assisted by Kylie Proudfoot-Payne at Coalton Elementary School.

“Currently, we are combining our efforts to create an Asian mural with the entire school. The kids are really enjoying this process.”

She said every lesson she presents requires a tremendous amount of prep work.

“I try to include photos and artifacts from each country or continent whenever possible, as well as bringing in music samples for students to hear,” Ferguson said. “This really helps the students to imagine what it would be like to travel there.”

Ferguson said she also throws in some foreign words and phrases.

“I also teach the students how to say hello, and other simple phrases in the country’s native language. My family traveled a lot growing up, so it is nice to share those experiences with my students. I think it is important for our students to realize that there is a whole world of different people and lands out there, each with their own unique culture and traditions.”

Wiest said the group is excited for the auction and glad for the community support.

“Each year, the Artsbank Program evolves and improves,” Wiest said. “We hope folks will come up and support arts education in our local schools.”