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A 5th grader works diligently on a collaborative art piece for the silent auction. he nails donated bottle caps to a barnwood fish. Photo by Aniqa Rahman

Theater hosts elementary art fundraiser

Isaac Young, a 5th grader at Lee School, works diligently on a collaborative art piece for the silent auction. He nails donated bottle caps to a barnwood fish. Photo by Aniqa Rahman
A fifth grader works diligently on a collaborative art piece for the silent auction. He nails donated bottle caps to a barnwood fish, one of four fish in the collection. Photo by Aniqa Rahman

If you drove by the Missouri Theatre tonight, you would see displayed on the flashing marquee a friendly invitation to the 7th annual Lee Elementary School Silent Art Auction/Silent Film Screening. The event, held to raise money for Lee’s vibrant art and music programs, takes place this Saturday, Feb. 9, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia.

The event isn’t just a fundraiser but a gallery for lovingly crafted student-art pieces. It is also the location for the screening of several short silent films by George Méliès, 20th Century French film maker featured in the film Hugo. Accompanying the film screenings will be live music played by the Rats and People Motion Picture Orchestra. In addition, the Lee choir and world drumming students will be performing in-between events. Tickets are available at the door: $8 adults; $5 ages 5-17; free to children under 5.

Money raised from the event is used to enrich the education of Lee students, using art and music to take education to another level, as per tradition at Lee. At Lee, “we have this thing called ‘Integration,’” fifth grader Thomas Bacon said, “and it’s when we incorporate our stuff from what we’re learning in class into what we’re doing in art and music.”

Bacon is currently working on a collaborative project involving old barn wood and bottle lids that, when finished, will be up for auction at the Missouri Theatre Saturday. Thomas, along with the rest of the students at Lee, benefits from the event. With the money, the elementary school is able to bring artists, authors and musicians into the classroom through a program called “Artist in Residence,” as well as buy art supplies and take students on field trips to local concerts and art exhibits.

Artwork on display at the auction has traditionally been a collection of pieces donated by various members of the community, from well-known local artists to active parents and teachers to the Lee students themselves. Hanging up in the Lee art room, waiting to be moved to the Missouri Theatre lobby, are numerous fish and leaf mobiles, constructed from drift wood and fired clay fish made by Lee students.

“We have incredible collaborative pieces that the kids have spent hours on,” Dr. Ann Mehr said. The event “is not just a bake sale — it’s an event that is very layered and rich for all the people who can attend.”

Students have made hand-dyed silk scarves, woven belts, mobiles and quilts, all for sale in the auction. In a store room behind the art room, numerous boxes hold more art donations from local artists, parents and teachers. Somehow, the whole community has managed to pitch in to make the event happen. And, there seems to be nowhere better to host it than the Missouri Theatre.

The Missouri Theatre is “a great venue,” fifth grade teacher Kara Johnson said. “It’s beautiful; there’s tons of space; our choir gets to perform; our drummers get to perform. It’s just a great community activity.”

By Aniqa Rahman

What do you remember as your favorite art from elementary school?

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