Teacher encouraging students to reclaim ‘stolen art’
As an elementary art teacher for 35 years, Darla Krause encouraged her students to produce works of art. And they did. Her favorite part was finding ways to display their work.
One creative project had the kids drawing people in active poses. Those drawings became a poster encouraging citizens to “exercise” their right to vote. Another assignment produced designs that looked like postage stamps. When the second-grade lesson was color mixing, the bright primary and secondary colors became clown portraits, which no doubt paraded down the school hallways.
“One of the favorite projects each year was collecting fall leaves. Kids would paint the leaves then print them on paper. I got the idea from Pat Ihli,” Darla said, expressing her appreciation of the influence of other teachers.
Since Darla, or Mrs. Krause as her students knew her, displayed her students’ work as much as she could, she wasn’t always able to return the work to the artist. “I kept putting the kids’ art up in places. I saw some of the students only once a week, and it was hard to get the paintings back to them; I didn’t keep it intentionally.”
Teaching five or six classes a day in Wadena and Deer Creek schools, Mrs. Krause saw 500-600 students per week and did not always return all of the work. “When I started, I had a cart and two metal cabinets of supplies,” she remembered. Over the years, she wrote many successful grant requests to the State Arts Board and brought working artists into the classrooms. Near the end of her career, she had an awesome art room in a new wing of the elementary school. “Then the tornado took it, and I ended up in a locker room in Wadena and had to travel to Deer Creek.”
The tornado didn’t blow away too much student work and after 35 years and having retired from teaching, Mrs. Krause has quite a collection of “missing” and “stolen” art. “I have about 100 pieces with names and 75 without. I’m going to hang all I can and have the rest here,” she said of the art show going up at Wadena’s ArtsPlace, her public effort to reunite the art pieces with the students who created them. The display, in a large space downstairs from “An Open Book,” will hang until the end of the year. Krause will post the names of her former students whose work will be in the show in downtown Wadena businesses. (See that list below.)
Now that Darla is retired, she and husband Chuck will be able to spend more time camping and horseback riding. They’ll get to spend more time with their only grandchild who was born in Kansas and recently moved with his parents to Plymouth. They’ll also take more frequent trips to visit their daughter in Alaska.
But Darla (Lyng) who grew up in Sauk Centre and majored in elementary art and graphic design in college, has no plans to leave behind her love of both. “Everything we see around us has been designed; we are all visual consumers. It directs us,” she said, noting that billboards, posters and commercials all use visual techniques to influence us. “Art education is so important.” She also knows that it’s important to keep students motivated. “Kids become so self-critical.”
She plans to work out a way of continuing to connect students with opportunities to display their work in public places. Some of the pieces in the ArtsPlace show will be framed as examples of how they could be featured in area businesses and offices, as part of this collaboration she will initiate between the students and the community.
With ideas, passion, knowledge of techniques and terminology, Darla will also continue to teach at ArtsPlace. “I teach the ‘inspired by nature’ classes as well as intergenerational art workshops.”
Whether displaying student work or overseeing projects in classes, one thing is for sure: the retired Mrs.Krause will always be sure that the artwork eventually goes home with the students.
An opening event will be held in ArtsPlace on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 3-7 p.m.
Click here to view gallery: https://www.srperspective.com/2012/11/gallery-reuniting-art-artist/
Recovered Artwork Exhibitor List
Group Pointillism Project: Alex Tollefson, Keenan Weik, Amanda, Abby, Nick, Kierstin, Karen, Morgan, Brooke, Mike, Paige, Marie , Alex, Heather, Hailey, Ella, Wesley, Hope, Alec
Continuous Line Drawings: Kristi Miller, Andrea Grow, Brad Folkestad, Heather Sepanski, Nathan Witthuhn, David Nelson, Sara Ward, Maggie Fix, Jennie Nelson, Richard Hanes, Sarah Browne, Elli Nolan, Andy Vanderpool, Melissa Dixon, Renee’ Drake
And at least 50 more pieces with just first names or no names at all!!!