Hobbton Elementarty School has an award-winning artist in its midst. Fourth-grader Amelia Spell recently found out that a piece of her artwork has been chosen to represent Sampson County Schools and will hang in North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) on permanent display.
When asked how the honor feels, a smiling Spell replied, “awesome.”
“The day I got it, I was like speechless,” added Spell who hails from Newton Grove.
Her winning artistic creation is a self-portrait which she titled “Crazy Hair Day.”
“I used paint, markers, and crayons,” Spell explained of her mixed medium work of art. “It was really colorful and she (the girl in the picture) had her hair in pigtails. My mom said it looked like me just with more colorful hair.”
Spell’s mom wasn’t the only one impressed with her artwork. Hobbton Elementary art teacher Angela Thornton, who has been teaching at the school for nine years, also took notice of it, so much so that she entered the piece in NCAEA’s (North Carolina Art Education Association) artwork update project for the NCDPI education building in Raleigh.
“The project is through NCAEA and they’re working with NCDPI. They invited all of the school systems in the state — 115 plus the state-supported charter schools — to participate in showcasing artwork at DPI,” explained Thornton. “We received something very interesting from Sandra Williams (president of NCAEA). She said that this is the first time that the artwork has been replaced in 16 years.”
“There were a lot of good ones (student art) so it was hard to choose,” continued Thornton of her task in picking just one piece to send from Hobbton Elementary. “I just thought she did a really good job with the self-portrait piece. The colors were wonderful and she was demonstrating lines and movement. It was very and had all the elements of art that I thought were the most important.”
Just as important to Thornton is that Spell’s artwork “showed that you can have fun with it (art) and still learn a lot about it,” noting that as an art teacher “you want them to enjoy and learn at the same time.”
And enjoying art is something Spell certainly does.
“It’s one of my favorite subjects,” she shared, adding that she also likes P.E., reading, and gymnastics. “I like that you can express yourself on a piece of paper and draw whatever you want…I like combining stuff (mixed mediums) and seeing what it makes.”
Spell’s interest in art has only grown as she has continued taking art classes at school with Thornton. “If you put your mind to anything to draw, you can do it,” said Spell of what she has learned from Thornton,” because everything is really just a shape so you try to put the shapes together and then you have it.”
When asked if art may be something she would like to pursue in the future, either in college or as a career, Spell pointed out that her main priority is just making sure that art always has a place in her life. “I want to keep my talent to do it. I don’t want to lose it.”
There seems to be no risk of that, according to Spell’s mom Melanie, who is the media specialist at Hobbton Elementary.
In addition to the many arts and crafts project she does at home and the art classes she takes at school, Spell “has taken art lessons for two years in Faison at the ARTS Company with Heather Williams,” informed Melanie, describing both Thornton and Williams as “great art teachers.”
“I’m very excited and very proud of her. She works very hard but art is kind of her release,” Melanie shared, mentioning that at the end of last school year, Spell even put on a solo art exhibit at their house, featuring her artwork from the entire year.
“I was amazed at all they did in just a year. We framed a lot of it and it’s in our house for good. She would take people like Mrs. Thornton around (the house) and show them her artwork. It ws like a 45 minute tour but she was talking to them about techniques and texture and things like that,” noted Melanie, impressed with how much her young daughter has already learned about art.
School principal Rhonda Spell is also impressed and feels Spell and her achievement are an example how important art is to children.
“We’re very proud of her. It’s an honor for her to be with us and have that recognition,” she shared.
“We’re very proud of Mrs. Thornton too.,” the principal added, mentioning that Thornton created the art in the school’s hallways. “We feel art is very important to the students. It gives them a way to express themselves in a positive way.”
Thornton and the rest of the state’s art teachers will have an opportunity to preview the student artwork at NCDPI on Oct. 3. In March, a reception will be held at NCDPI for the students whose artwork was selected and their families.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.