'Third Grade Clay' celebrates 25 years in Coe art galleries

Rod Pritchard
Published: January 7 2013 | 12:29 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 9:42 am in

Nearly 1,200 third graders from 21 area elementary schools will display their artwork at Coe College as part of a quarter century collaboration between the college and the Cedar Rapids Community School District. “Third Grade Clay” runs from Friday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 3 in the Marvin Cone and Eaton-Buchan Galleries of Sinclair Auditorium.

The opening of the exhibit and a reception for the young artists and their families will take place in the Sinclair lobby on Friday, Jan. 18, from 5 – 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend free of charge and refreshments will be served. Regular gallery hours are 4 – 6 p.m. daily beginning on Saturday, Jan. 19, and admission is free. For more information call 399-8581.

In its 25th year, “Third Grade Clay” provides young artists with the opportunity to show three-dimensional work in a professional environment. Generally, the young artists from each elementary craft an individual piece of clay in conjunction with the theme selected by the school, yielding nearly two dozen creative displays.

The program was initially organized by Coe Art Professor John Beckelman to give young students an outlet to display their three-dimensional work. While elementary schools typically have lots of wall space to display paintings and drawings, Beckelman says it’s more challenging for elementary school art teachers to find places to showcase clay creations. In the mid-1980s, Beckelman and local elementary art instructors began a dialogue about creating a show at Coe, and the third grade level was believed to be ideal for the young artists to display their work. As a result, the “Third Grade Clay” art show was created and has become a community tradition.

Coe Gallery Director and Instructor of Art Jennifer Rogers coordinates the event. Rogers says that thanks to the talented youngsters and their art teachers, “Third Grade Clay” has become one of the most popular art shows held at the college each year.

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