silent auction

Torin Jacobs bids on student artwork during last month's annual silent art auction, hosted by the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

Photographer: Julia Moss

silent auction

The sixth annual Art Extravaganza in the McCracken Hall Gallery on Nov. 5 raised money to buy a kiln for art classes at Federal Hocking Secondary.

Photographer: Julia Moss

silent auction

Dean of the Patton College of Education Renee Middleton (pictured here) hopes the continuing association between Patton College and local schools will enhance understandings about the significance of art education in primary through higher education.

Photographer: Julia Moss

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Patton College's art auction inspires regional youth

Leah Brudno has always been personally interested in art, encouraged by her school district's art education programs. But her involvement with a recent Ohio University-hosted art auction inspired her to delve even deeper.

"The auction gave me a different perspective: to produce something and present it to the public to view. It gives the artwork value and makes me feel more professional," said Brudno, a senior at Federal Hocking Secondary. "Because I experienced it, I feel inspired to get a bit more involved – to push myself and create something bigger."

A glimpse into the professional world, an experience stirring future endeavors and a feeling of importance were just a few of the takeaway's available to local students during last month's annual silent art auction, hosted by the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

In its sixth year, the event annually showcases and sells original student artwork, with proceeds benefitting individual student artists as well as their schools' art programs. The auction aims to support the efforts of local education agencies by highlighting the creative abilities and talents of the student artist.

"The arts is a network that ties into comprehensive learning," said Patton College of Education Dean Renée A. Middleton. "There seems to be an under appreciation of the importance of arts, and the arts' contribution to enhancing student learning in any subject matter."

Outreach through art

Athens County is home to five school districts, responsible for educating more than 9,000 of the next generation. The Patton College strives uphold the value of art education in Southeast Ohio, through partnerships with these area schools.  

Since its inception, the Patton College art auction has benefitted more than ten local schools across the county. Middleton said the occasion helps students associate a positive feeling with Ohio University.

"That is the message we want to send: Ohio University cares about our community, our schools, our young people and our families," she said.

Middleton said at one point during the Nov. 5 auction, a fifth grader realized he had two bids on his artwork, with the highest at $35.

"I told him that means he would get about $17, and he said, 'Really? Wow!' $17 to a fifth grader – that made his day," she said.

In total, the night's auction raised about $2,000 for the Federal Hocking School District. Ellen Hadley, art instructor at Federal Hocking Secondary, said the money would be used to purchase a kiln for the school. The kiln will eventually allow the high school to add a ceramics course, added Brudno.

"The proceeds put a dent in the kiln's cost and what it would mean for the school, helping their dreams become a reality," Middleton said. "Our area schools do a lot for us by taking our candidates and preparing them to teach, so this is a great opportunity to recognize and offset the schools' inability to supplement their art education programs."

Learn, empower, grow

The auction does more than raise funds. It also improves spirits and promotes confidence.

"(The art auction) gives us an outlet to tell young students of their importance," said Middleton. "We invite parents, and they see their students' art hanging on the wall, giving their children a sense of pride, and it validates to the parent that what their young person is engaged in is significant, further building the self-esteem of that young person."

Hadley believes the annual event provides another mechanism for learning - teaching students and participants, alike, community values.

"Providing art, sharing visual ideas with others and engaging in dialogue, I feel are great examples of the qualities we want to have as good citizens," she said.

She added that the art auction led to the increase of several students' dedication to art class and their specific pieces in the days leading up to the event.

"The prospect of being involved in an actual auction got my students to consider the monetary value of their art, allowing us to discuss material costs and artisan's rates while authenticating self-reflection," Hadley said. "There was a lot more energy toward follow-through, and the results were better than I hoped."

Middleton said the students' newfound excitement was reflected in their art pieces.

"I'm always amazed when I look at the students' accomplishments and what the teacher was able to bring out of the students," said Middleton. "There are some remarkable, talented young people, and I am certain that many of them are surprised about what they were capable of doing."

The Ohio University promise

Middleton hopes the collaboration will make higher education, and OHIO in particular, less daunting for student attendees. Not only does the event introduce students to a university setting, it gives them a chance to engage with and be encouraged by current college students and administrators.

"Not every young person has to go to a four-year institution," said Middleton. "But many times when they say 'no,' it's because they believe they don't have the capacity or the ability or it's not a possibility for them. I want every young person in Southeast Ohio to understand that it is possible for them."

Middleton and Hadley hope the continuing association will enhance understandings about the significance of art education in primary through higher education.

As art aids inclusive learning by opening all avenues of the mind, it lends to the development of a young child's mind, Middleton said. She believes the role of an educator is to provide opportunities and activities that challenge students' minds, yet the continual defunding of art education shortchanges those capacities.

"It is time for us all to invest more energy in our schools' art education programs … I hope that partnerships like the one we have in Patton College will enable this connection to occur by bringing to light and giving real value to the successes of students as they create a piece of themselves to share with the world," Hadley said.

For updates and information on the next art auction, follow the Patton College on Twitter at @OUPattonCollege or on Facebook at OHIO Patton College of Education and Human Services.