Canterbury student takes "Best In Show"
“Best in Show” is a pretty big deal for an artist. It’s a huge deal if you’re a second-grader competing against students in kindergarten through eighth grade, from 10 counties.
That’s the award that Grant Gosa, a second-grade student at Canterbury Elementary School, received in March at the Youth Art Month exhibit sponsored by the Northeast Ohio division of the Ohio Art Education Association (OAEA) at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). It was the fifth consecutive year that a Canterbury student took home that honor.
Grant is not the only talented artist in the building. The work of four other Canterbury students was displayed at either CWRU or the statewide Youth Art Month show in Columbus, sponsored by OAEA.
“I was really, really, really excited,” said fourth-grader Ryan Harris, whose drawing of a macaw was featured in the show at CWRU.
Emma Gann’s family traveled to Columbus on March 11 to admire the iguana she had painted. “It was really fun,” said Emma, who compared the show to a real museum. “I was so impressed by the other work.”
First-grade student, McKenna Mack, submitted a crayon-and-paint drawing of a toucan to the exhibit. Ida Bergson, art teacher at Canterbury, said that McKenna’s work “is consistently good and shows depth and perception usually reserved for older students.”
For McKenna, she’s just doing what she loves: “I have maybe a thousand notebooks filled with drawings. It’s what I do when I finish my homework every night.”
Third-grader Ianna Harris took second place at the CWRU show for her abstract drawing of an Aztec sun stone.
Bergson connects what she teaches in art class with the academic subjects students are learning, such as ecosystems as part of the social studies and science curriculums in fourth and fifth grades.
Bergson has a detailed system for teaching drawing, one that breaks down the components of drawing into specific steps to ensure student mastery, just as a classroom teacher does with reading or math.
“If you place a bunch of five-year-olds in a room with books, one or two might actually teach themselves to read," said Bergson. "But most will still need explicit instruction. That’s how I view art. Once the kids flip to the right side of their brain and really get it, they hardly even need me anymore.”
She’s been submitting her students’ work to juried regional and statewide shows for the past 16 years. “The competition can be intense,” she said. “But it’s worth it for these kids to see their work honored.”
Students throughout the district also saw their work displayed at the Lee Road Library, in a show which ended May 8, which featured more than 300 pieces from CH-UH students, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Grant Gosa, winner of Best in Show at CWRU, also won first place for Canterbury at the district show, with McKenna Mack taking second place, and Ryan Harris winning third.
Bergson’s students rank art class as among their favorite school subjects and name “artist” or “art teacher” as possible career choices.
Krissy Dietrich Gallagher
Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, is a former district teacher and a freelance journalist under contract with the CH-UH City School District. A longer version of this story appeared at www.chuh.org.