Students work ‘Side-by-Side’ with local artists to create their own masterpieces

Published 8:18 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Eight students in grades 3-5 in the Danville Schools had a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with artists in the area, thanks to a grant from VSA Kentucky’s Side-By-Side program.

Students like Torian Bess, a fourth grader at Hogsett Elementary School.

Photo submitted
Torian Bess with his pieces that he made through the Side-By-Side program, part of VSA Kentucky, at the Danville Independent Schools.

Torian said he had fun working with Paul Muth, who works with clay and creates pottery locally for his business, Sugar Grove Pottery. Students worked individually with Muth, Brandon Long, Catherine Thomsen, Joni Morgan and Elaine Hearne over a period of eight weeks, culminating in a reception for their parents on Monday at Hogsett Elementary.

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Hogsett Special Education Teacher Mary Neal and Art Teacher Chassity Brady complemented the students on their work at the event on Monday.

“It’s really important to give our kids a voice,” said Brady, referring to the student works.

“You all did incredible work,” Neal said to the students. “I’m immensely proud.”

They also commended Jane Dewey, director of arts education for the district, for her support of the project. Dewey said it was important to recognize the principals and the board of education for their support as well.

Torian’s dad, Tim Bess, said he felt it was a great opportunity for his son and other students.

“Most kids don’t get enough art these days,” Bess said. “It’s a great experience for any kid that has the opportunity to do it.”

Photo submitted
Torian Bess works with Paul Muth during the Side-By-Side program.

Torian’s grandmother, Anne Crawford Bess, is an artist who works with painting and pastels, and someone he’s been able to create with before. While he enjoys that, Torian Bess said he really liked working with Muth.

“I had fun,” he said, and that he liked working with the clay. Someday, Torian said, he thinks he wants to be an artist.

Muth said he, too, enjoyed the experience. He has worked with children in schools before, but it’s always been in large groups.

“It’s a real advantage to work one-on-one,” he said. “To give one kid a real, proper amount of time is really a lot of fun.”

Muth said he would definitely participate again. “Take any kid and put them with clay, it’s a positive experience.”

After Monday’s event, the art will travel to the various elementary schools in the district before joining other student works at the Community Arts Center from May 5-26, something else Torian said he thought was “cool.”

Side-By-Side is a program of VSA Kentucky, which, according to their website, “is a non-profit organization that promotes arts, education and creative expression for all.”

The organization contacted the district, Mary Neal explained, because of the success of the Art Expressions program, which helps students increase communication skills, develop a sense of self, build relationships and facilitate sensory integration. It began in 2012 and is for students in kindergarten through second grade.


The student artwork, will travel through the Danville Elementary Schools, landing at the Community Arts Center on May 5 to be included with a larger student art show. There will be a reception at CAC from 5:30-7 p.m. on May 5 and the art will remain up until May 26.

Kendra Peek/
Student works at the Side-By-Side reception, held at Hogsett Elementary School Monday night.

Kendra Peek/
Student works at the Side-By-Side reception, held at Hogsett Elementary School Monday night.

Kendra Peek/
Mary Neal, special education teacher at Hogsett Elementary, commends the students for the great job they did on their art pieces.