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Exhibit showcases work of one student from each state

Eleven-year-old Fabian created a self-portrait
Eleven-year-old Fabian, from New Martinsville, W.Va., created a self-portrait out of paper mache. His artwork is among the 51 pieces on display at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum's temporary exhibit. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

A mannequin head with paint
A mannequin head with paint and other objects "brings out her personality," according to Christian, 13, of Nashville, Tenn., who created this piece on display at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Nicolas Bennett looks over some of the art
Nicolas Bennett, 10, of Winchester, looks over some of the art that is part of the exhibit "Celebrating Who I Am." Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Jessica Wiant - jwiant@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A temporary exhibit at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum on Winchester's walking mall is making the walls there a lot brighter.

"Celebrating Who I Am" is a collection of artwork assembled by "All Kids Can ... CREATE," a partnership of VSA arts and CVS Caremark All Kids Can, whose programs aim to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities.

"All Kids Can ... CREATE" is an annual campaign to encourage inclusive arts education and provide increased awareness of the arts for children with disabilities. Every CVS store and each VSA arts affiliate participates in the program, according to the VSA Web site, and each year the campaign culminates with an exhibit of a selection of the art submitted.

"It's a great way to bring something new to the museum at a low cost," says Niki Wilson, director of marketing and development for the museum.

Each piece of art in the exhibit was submitted in response to a call for artwork from students ages 5 to 15 put out last fall, according to a news release from the museum.

For the exhibit, a piece was chosen from each state and Washington, D.C., Wilson says. The subject matter and even type of artwork varies greatly from piece to piece: Some are pencil drawings while others are a collage of items as varied as feathers, yarn, strips of paper and googly eyes.

"They are encouraged to use whatever they like," Wilson says.

The 51 pieces, along with an introduction to the exhibit, start to the left past the museum's entrance and are hung all around the rest of the exhibits.

Many pieces provide a glimpse of the students' environment -- from a swamp scene in Louisiana to a drawing of the foothills of Arizona.

Accompanying each piece is information on the student who created it, including a statement from the student.

The statements reflect students' sense of self-esteem and creativity.

"I am creative and I can create anything ... I'm inventing an animal all by myself," one student wrote of his dinosaur.

"I am artistic, nice and fun," another girl wrote.

"I just think it's great to go around and read about what inspired them to do it," Wilson says, and she hopes the exhibit inspires museum visitors -- children and parents -- to do their own art.

"Everybody loves it," says gallery manager "Mr. Mark" Lawson. "It's not only good to look at up close but it adds to the atmosphere of the whole place in general."

The exhibit is on display now, but an opening set for February's First Friday was postponed because of the weather, according to Wilson. The event has been rescheduled for March's First Friday, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on March 5, and will feature free admission to the museum, an art demonstration by local artist Julie Read and an art project for children of all ages, Wilson says.

The collection will be on display at the museum through April 2, before moving on to other locations throughout the country.

The most recent call for artwork by "All Kids Can ... Create" has just wrapped up. More information about the current exhibit, including images of the artwork, is online at www.vsarts.org/celebratingwhoiam. More information about the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum is available by calling 722-2020 or online at www.discoverymuseum.net.



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