Hundreds of spectators recently saw the students’ artistic talent projected on the big screen at the VBCPS Youth Art Month Citywide Drive-In Art Show.
Families parked their cars in the School Administration Building lot and munched on snacks while hundreds of art pieces scrolled across the side of two trucks that were doing double-duty as projection screens. Proud parents honked their car horns when their children’s works were highlighted in the slideshow.
“I’m nervous but I’m also excited,” said Indian Lakes Elementary student Jax F. as he waited for his bumblebee drawing to pop up on the screen. “This is the first time I’ve ever been in an art show.” He was there with his younger brother and his mom, sitting on the tailgate of their SUV in the mild March weather.
The program was held on two consecutive nights to allow as many families as possible to enjoy the shows from the safety of their cars.
Cooke Elementary art teacher Mary Carol Lynch came out to see her students’ work.
“This is fabulous,” she said. “I know my students are super-excited to see their work. And I really appreciate the hard work everyone did to set this up.”
Safe Schools, Maintenance Services, Distribution Services, Food Services and the Department of Teaching and Learning teamed up to produce an event that gave students an opportunity to let their talents shine while following COVID-19 safety protocols.
Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence welcomed families via a radio simulcast that included social-distancing reminders and smooth jazz music in the background.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our school system,” he said. “It an example of our resilience. We’re always putting our students first and celebrating their work, no matter the circumstances.”
Much of the artwork was created in the virtual environment, with teachers encouraging their students as they worked from home. Art teachers districtwide were invited to submit pieces representing their school.
“It’s awesome,” Kempsville Elementary second-grader Alexia H. said from the backseat of her car. Her mom, Krystal, added that her kids were also enjoying the rare parental-OK to eat inside the car during the special event.
Old Donation School art teacher Andy Harris came up with the idea for the event.
“You have to rethink how you do everything right now,” he said. “Art projection is something we’ve been talking about for a while now. And while we were brainstorming ideas for Youth Art Month, the details of this event started to come together.”
While student art continues to be displayed at indoor venues such as the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, COVID-19 protocols make it difficult to have a reception open to all families. The Drive-in Art Show provided a safe and innovative alternative.
“It’s great to see this come to fruition,” said Chris Buhner, visual arts coordinator. “A lot of division folks made this event possible for students.”
As Amber Hester, visual arts instructional specialist, helped organize the images for the show, tears welled in her eyes.
“With every piece of art I saw, I realized more and more just how resilient our students, parents and teachers have been during this difficult time,” Hester said. “It’s amazing, and it’s heartwarming.”