The art gallery, a product of a partnership between the CPS Fine Arts Department and Columbia’s Office of Cultural Affairs, features artwork from the district’s elementary, middle and high school students.
That partnership has existed since 1993 through the district’s Partners in Education program, which connects schools with the community in an effort to strengthen school programs and boost local economic growth.
“It’s a two-way gift,” said James Melton, the district’s director of fine arts. “It’s the opportunity for students to say thank you to our Partners in Education … but, equally, it’s an opportunity for the Partners in Education to celebrate what students are achieving.”
Every student who participates in the gallery has a chance to have their work featured on the city’s next Family Fun Fest poster. That student, or students, will be selected by city staff. Their school will also receive a $500 honorarium for classroom art supplies.
This is the second year of the virtual gallery. Before the pandemic, student artwork was displayed in the windows of downtown businesses during PIE Week. Molly Delgado, CPS community relations specialist, said that shifting to the virtual gallery has made it possible for more schools to participate.
“It made it a little more inclusive and expanded it,” Delgado said. “In time, if we want to do both, we could do both. But right now, the virtual gallery has really taken off.”