ROCKINGHAM — Rockingham Middle School’s media center was converted to an art studio for two hours Thursday afternoon as Asheboro artist Nikki Cherry led students in a quest to create a masterpiece.
AIG teacher Nikki Covington invited Cherry to teach the class after discovering her work online at thepreppypossum.com. Cherry and husband Andy Crofoot conduct classes each day of the week for children and adults, providing all materials needed for students to complete a work of art in a surprisingly short span of time. Students paid to be a part of the session.
“This is our first after-school joint venture with a professional group like Preppy Possum,” Covington said. “It helps takes kids out of their comfort zone. The class is fully set up when they arrive with easels, paint, paintbrushes and canvass and they are told they will finish a painting from beginning to end in two hours. They get to take risks. It’s a way of self expression and creativity.”
Media specialist Michelle Denham and Covington have participated in similar art classes in their spare time and thought it would be a rewarding opportunity for their students.
“I think as word gets out, it’s going to catch on,” Denham said. “The cost for each student is $25, and for that they get lessons on technique, hands-on experience and practical advice.”
Cherry has been teaching art classes for three years. Before that, she was primarily a studio artist with exhibits of her own paintings.
“The main thing is just to make art fun,” Cherry said. “Teach it step by step. Anyone can do it. They get to leave with art they created.”
Crofoot is not an artist, but as a supportive husband he travels with Cherry to set up the portable studios and help teach the classes. He prefers teaching children to teaching adults.
“I think this is good because schools are losing their art programs due to budget cuts,” Crofoot said. “In Randolph County where we live, we went to Star Elementary and did an art fundraiser project. It’s neat to see kids being able to express this creativity. It’s more fun with kids versus adults because they don’t have any reservations, they’re always happy. They’re not afraid of anything and are more willing to just jump in and try things.”
Annabelle Parks, 11, was focused on her work as she touched the brush with brown paint to the canvass, adding small spots to the blue-green shell of the sea turtle she had painted.
“I think it’s really fun to just be able to paint stuff,” she said. “And I love art. If we do this again, I’ll come back.”