Marfa Elementary School artists debut creations at Marfa Studio of Arts this weekend

Marfa Elementary students trace a 3D model of their sculpture designs before developing a pattern and cut list. Marfa Studio of Arts will exhibit the recent work of local elementary students, celebrating with an opening this Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. Photo by Sam Dwyer.

MARFA — Art by Marfa Kids, an exhibition featuring the work of Marfa’s up-and-coming artists –– students of Marfa Elementary School –– will open from 3 to 5 p.m. this Saturday, December 2, at the Marfa Studio of Arts gallery. 

Pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students have been working with art teachers on a wide array of artistic endeavors as a part of MSA’s Studio in the Elementary School (SITES) program once a week since the beginning of the school year. Their various projects have enlivened the walls of the elementary school and will now be on view for the entire community to enjoy. 

“This show will be a great opportunity for anyone curious to see what the state of arts education is like at Marfa ISD –– both what we teachers are exploring, and how the kids are interpreting it.” said SITES program coordinator Sam Dwyer.  

Kids have delved into lessons on paints, pigments, abstract shapes, architecture, design and more. One project inspired by Keith Haring involved students tracing life-sized silhouettes of their classmates to learn about storytelling through the abstract human form. Another focused on designing and building a massive tower out of cardboard and plastic scraps, an ode to humbly-built shacks that can be found all over West Texas. 

Elementary Principal Amy White said not only do the kids love participating in the program, SITES art instructors — local artists who may or may not have formal teaching experience — are often surprised by how much they like working with the students. 

MSA has helped provide arts education to Marfa students since 2005. If it weren’t for MSA and Beth Kerzee, a retired music teacher who is helping conduct occasional music classes at the elementary school, White said elementary students may go without arts education entirely. 

“We don’t have to offer music, unfortunately. We don’t have to offer art. The only thing we have to legally offer is P.E.,” sais White. “If we didn’t have [MSA], there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have art.” 

White said Marfa Elementary parents who attend the MSA Gallery openings appreciate the opportunity for their children to exercise creativity and express themselves.

“They’re not just in there drawing stick figures, they’re out there following directions. They’re giving them assignments, but they’re free to use their own minds to be creative,” said White. “I think that’s important to the parents.” 

The MSA Gallery is located at 106 San Antonio Street. Art by Marfa Kids will run through January 2024.