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West Valley City Journal

ARTrageous enhances students’ understanding of the arts, different cultures

Nov 28, 2018 04:28PM ● By Justin Adams

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. (Photo by June A. Knight)

By Sarah Payne | [email protected] 

In this day, where everything seems to be so materialistic and digitized, the 

West Valley City ARTrageous program takes it upon itself to expose students and citizens to the richness of the arts and the beauty of other cultures.  

Owned by West Valley City, the ARTrageous program creates programs, shows and exhibits in order to do this. They gear the programs to students in West Valley schools, but also perform in other parts of the valley upon request.

A wonderful example of an ARTrageous event is their recent Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. Two hundred community members participated in the event and students arrived by the busload. Día de los Muertos is a traditional Latin American celebration honoring one’s ancestors and is an extremely important day in the Mexican culture. 

School groups were invited to participate in a 30-minute tour of the gallery and guest speaker Claudia Benitez, of the Mexican Consul’s office, spoke of her life growing up in Mexico and the traditions of Mexico, such as Día de los Muertos. Guest artist Francis Rogers, a traditional Mexican paper flower artist, led students in a hands-on activity. She demonstrated how to make a traditional Mexican paper flower, then guided participants to help them make one to take home.

As part of the exhibition, the students were taken outside the gallery to look at the Olmec head statue on display. The Olmecs were an ancient Central American tribe, along with such tribes as the Aztecs and Mayans. The Olmec head, weighing about seven tons, was a gift to West Valley City from the governor of Veracruz, Mexico as a symbol of the Mexican culture thriving in the city today.

“The ARTrageous program seeks to engage kids through the public school system in artistic enrichment activities that enhance their learning,” said Susan Klinker of ARTrageous. “We use core curriculum to bring their learning to life.”

The ARTrageous program also does an annual sculpture show that connects with the Face of Utah sculpture exhibit. This exhibit is the largest in the state, unusual among traditional art shows because the show is unjuried. Rather than a competition, it is simply meant to display participants’ art.  

In connection with this event, ARTrageous holds an exhibition of these works, in which they guide participants, often summer camp groups, through the gallery in order for them to be able to see the artwork on display. It is a stimulating 45-minute tour, in which participants discuss the pieces asking such questions as what medium was used and what they think the artist was trying to convey. The tour is followed by a hands-on activity in which the children get a chance to try making their own 3D art. 

In addition to exhibits, ARTrageous hosts a variety of performances and concerts. One such performance celebrates the traditions and culture of the Pacific islands put on by a group known as Island Traditions. 

In spring of 2019, a musical workshop is planned in connection with Granger and Hunter High Schools with the West Valley City Orchestra. ARTrageous partners with other local arts organizations as well. In an event known as Middle East Explorations, a guest speaker from the Islamic Speakers Bureau talks about Islam, followed by a question and answer session to enhance understanding of Muslim beliefs and culture.

Klinker has been a part of the program since its inception some 12 years ago. 

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “It’s wonderful to work with so many diverse artists in the community, so many art forms and help kids gain an appreciation for art. We’re always trying to bring curriculum to life through experience of the arts.”