When Creativity Festivity kicks off 10 days of activities this week, residents will have a chance to see Durango schools’ arts education in action.
Durango School District 9-R, Animas High and the Durango Montessori schools are participating in the project, which is celebrating its 23rd year. Students 18 years old and under have spent hours, and in some cases, months, creating visual projects and writing poetry based on the theme: “Art Connects the World.”
The Durango Arts Center is the center of activities during the festival, which includes performances of “The Grunch: A New Children’s Musical” by the arts center’s Applause children’s performing arts program. The musical, a takeoff on “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” features a sixth-grader who decides to sabotage her school’s musical production by stealing the sets, costumes and props.
While Animas High School has been invited to participate every year since it opened in 2009, this is only the third time the school will have student art displayed. Art teacher Roxy McKnight said that was for a variety of reasons, but this year, the exhibit was a chance for her junior and senior students to display their projects researching radical art movements.
“I didn’t even give them the theme,” she said. “They picked a radical art movement to research, and their pieces are either inspired by or rejected by those movements.
“I wanted them to step out of their comfort zones.”
Many of the AHS entries are digital, McKnight said.
One of her students took underwater photography to a new level, and the results are on display at the Barbara Conrad Gallery.
“She set it at Bakers Bridge and it looks like a couple jumps off in an embrace,” McKnight said. “But of course, they didn’t jump, and she shot them entering the water at Mountain Shadows (Motel). She set off some smoke bombs but she wasn’t sure how they would work, so she had to order more. It took her several months.”
Other students wrote, produced and served as cinematographers on short films, which will be played on a loop on a television set. Some of them were also screened in the Durango Film Festival.
Originally started by a group of local artists who offered after-school arts programming, Creativity Festivity has become part of schools’ curriculum, a part the whole community can enjoy.