Festival shoe-cases student talents

Sandusky Schools hosted its 12th annual Art Festival on Friday, a district-wide event showcasing projects from students in all grades.
Alissa Widman Neese
May 8, 2014
When Elijah Hill, 6, crafts a work of art, he craves unwavering concentration.

On Friday, the Ontario Elementary School first-grader examined his latest unconventional canvas: a white shoe, meticulously stained using multicolored markers.

Red and blue symbolized Spider-Man, while red and green represented Sandman, he explained.

“I like to use my imagination,” whispered the superhero enthusiast, who barely glanced upward while coloring his creation.

Sandusky Schools hosted its 12th annual Art Festival on Friday, a district-wide event showcasing projects from students in all grades. In addition to displaying artwork, the district provides its students with hands-on, interactive activities.

This year’s Art Festival project, titled “I’m leaving a footprint in Sandusky,” is a collaboration among all district students, parents and teachers.

For the past month or so, families have donated used sneakers to Sandusky Schools to be spray-painted white. Goodwill Inc. also contributed some shoes to the cause.

At Friday’s festival, students selected shoes and decorated them with colorful designs.

The entire piece, featuring hundreds of vibrant sneakers, will likely be divided into smaller, traveling exhibits to be displayed in various buildings throughout the city.

“The idea is, no matter where you go someday, you’ll always have one foot left in Sandusky,” Sandusky Schools art department chair Rick Browne said.

The project echoes the theme of the district’s recurring festivals, which attract hundreds of students, families and alumni each year. This year’s event also included a fashion show, face painting and a slew of prize ribbons.

By being interactive, the festival’s goal is to emphasize how the process of creating art is just as rewarding as admiring the finished product, Browne said.

Even the district’s youngest artists — including Elijah, who spent more than an hour coloring his shoe alongside art teacher Michelle Newell — appeared to appreciate the message.

“Art is definitely his favorite part of school,” his mother, Amber Thompson, said. “I have a feeling we’re going to be spotting plenty of his ‘footprints’ here at the festival someday”