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West Valley City Journal

Fifth year festival shines light on student artists

Jun 02, 2017 10:09AM ● By Travis Barton

Granger High School students Kurt Bell, Nawres Al Saud and Beatney Ceron kneel next to their art pieces after West Valley City’s Student Arts Festival at Fairbourne Plaza. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]
As a child, Kurt Bell would draw Disney characters. Now, as a Granger High School senior he’s drawing actress Audrey Hepburn and winning prizes.
West Valley City Parks and Recreation department held its fifth annual Student Arts Festival on May 11 at Fairbourne Plaza. Bell won the inaugural people’s choice category where fellow artists and attendees could vote on their favorite.
The art piece for which Bell won was a sketched, traced and painted drawing of Audrey Hepburn with a cat on her shoulder. Bell watched the 1961 film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” as part of his research for what started as a gift for his friend.
“She likes Audrey Hepburn and she likes cats so I made this for her for graduation,” he said.
Nick Coleman, recreation program manager for West Valley City, said the category was available for kids to participate if they wanted. It was created after students voiced a desire for a friendly competition.
As for the winner, Coleman said, “It was beautiful, it deserved to win but there were so many other ones as well, it could’ve gone anyway.”
Twenty-three students turned out for the festival with over 60 pieces of art that ranged from oil and acrylic paints to ceramic and 3-D.
“It was crazy. You name it, we had it,” said Coleman.
Maybe most importantly, it gave students from around the city a chance to showcase their talents at a free venue.
“You know how athletes get to compete? Artists get to show their work. You get to show it to people and it also helps people to know you,” said Nawres Al Saud, a Granger High senior.
Art, for these students, can be a manner of communication.
“It was hard for me to express my feelings at first,” Al Saud said. “But, when I started painting, that’s one of the ways I expressed those feelings.”
It’s why Bell gifts his pieces to friends.
“I’ve been able to express, ‘I care about you, you’re my friend’ through this way. This is what I put effort into and I’m giving it to you,” Bell, who brought six pieces to the festival, said.
 Beatney Ceron, a Granger High senior, said his piece was about social injustice.
“It helps me show what’s happening in the world today without having to speak,” Ceron said.
All three students plan to continue as artists whether as a hobby or their profession. Ceron had inklings to be an artist in first grade. Al Saud is the state’s Sterling Scholar runner-up in visual art. Festivals like these allow them to demonstrate their abilities outside the classroom.
“It helps us students and as artists show our talents to the public and not just in school,” Ceron said.
Coleman said the festival shows a different facet to recreation in West Valley.
“We’re more than just good old-fashioned softball leagues and youth soccer leagues that we’re trying to reach out to other areas and other aspects in our community,” he said, adding that Cyprus Credit Union and Blick Art Materials sponsored the event with Blick giving $15 gift cards to all who participated.
Students were grateful for the different recreational element.
“I think it was a great opportunity that the city was able to do this for us, so just a big thanks to them,” Ceron said.
With multiple teachers from various schools and the school district coming out, Coleman said it’s the type of community event that shows unity.
Coleman recently moved to West Valley from Florida. He said events like these were unique to recreation departments.
“I think it’s great, it’s outside the box. For me, I took a lot of pleasure just being out there myself and taking part in it and seeing all the kids,” he said.