Youth artwork at Teatro Zuccone - it's elementary!

The Teatro Zuccone lobby was abuzz with activity as parents and children filed in to see the latest art show, featuring work by students of Laura MacArthur Elementary School.

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Third-grader Ethan Starstead poses by his watercolor painting of ship silhouettes on Lake Superior on display at Teatro Zuccone as a part of the Laura MacArthur Elementary School artwork showcase. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)

The Teatro Zuccone lobby was abuzz with activity as parents and children filed in to see the latest art show, featuring work by students of Laura MacArthur Elementary School.

"Which one is your painting?" Jonelle Starstead asked her enthusiastic third-grade son, Ethan.

"There it is! It's right there! Mine is the one with the purple!" Ethan replied, running over to his painting hung just outside the theater entrance. The watercolor painting showed silhouettes of various ships and boats against a purple and orange background.

In honor of March being Youth Art Month, artwork by teacher Chrissy Valento's elementary students is featured in the Teatro Zuccone lobby.

"Part of our job as visual art teachers is to get our student work visible and out in the community," Valento said.


A special show opening was held on March 9 for parents and family members.

"Ethan brought home this cute invite that had a picture of his painting right on the front, so I could tell which was his," Starstead said. "He's pretty excited about having people see his art. He draws a lot, almost every day. We have random art of his all over the house so it's fun to see it somewhere else."

Ethan explained how he made his painting.

"It's a silhouette of Lake Superior ships in the sunset. What we first did was, we put water all over the special watercolor paper. Then we did 10 practice ships with a pencil on paper. And we got to choose five of our ships to put on our paintings. But before that we added salt to get that texture stuff you see right here," Ethan said.

Valento said the painting was part of her work to integrate social studies into her art classes.

"They cover Duluth landmarks in the third-grade social studies curriculum. So we talked about the ships on Lake Superior, what they do, how they haul cargo and where they go," Valento said.

Valento is constantly seeking to integrate other studies into her art classes.

"Art is integrated into everything. I'm constantly trying to dispel the myth of art as extra ... art as fluff, art as just making 'stuff.' It couldn't be further from the truth," Valento said.


In November, she integrated classical music by collaborating with Rudy Perrault of the University of Minnesota Duluth. Perrault's students performed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony while artwork by Valento's students was projected in the background.

"I taught them a little bit about Beethoven and we listened to the symphony while we created our artwork. Fifth-graders did portraits of him, fourth-graders did a collage inspired by the music," Valento said.

The 250 students who participated were also invited to a performance of the show.

Fifth grader Ella Carter's Beethoven portrait was also chosen for the art show at Teatro Zuccone.

"It was pretty cool," Ella said. "I liked seeing my picture up there. And here, too."

Art class in Duluth elementary schools is based on an eight-day rotation schedule. Valento works with each art class for an hour every eight days, but she says she wishes she had more time.

"In art class, we talk about how the clock is not necessarily our friend, due to creative juices flowing and not wanting to stop when the clock says we must," Valento said. "My students will often say, 'How come we can't have art more often?!' My response is always, 'I wish I could have you in class more often, too!'"

However, Valento does appreciate the time she gets with the students and is always looking for opportunities to show off their artwork. She has several other students' artwork on display at the Duluth Art Institute as a part of the Youth Art Month showcase there until March 25.


"Being an art teacher is is a job I hold dear. I am amazed by my students each and everyday. On a daily basis, my students show me things I have never noticed! They are so creative and imaginative," Valento said.

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