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Orange County Fine Arts Fair returns after pandemic hiatus

After a three-year pandemic hiatus, Orange County Public Schools will continue its Fine Arts Fair in person on Saturday.

Performances, make-and-take crafts and a visual art exhibition displaying works by students in kindergarten through 12th grade will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday in Orange County High School’s auditorium and cafeteria.

Listen for elementary students’ choral performances in the auditorium, including the fifth-graders’ performance of music from Disney’s “Frozen,” said Jamie Yurasits Howie, who is fine arts department head and an art instructor at Orange County High School.

The cafeteria is the place to see paintings, sculptures and other creations by students and join the county schools’ art teachers for art projects that can help bring the fun home, Howie said.

“All of the art teachers in the county will be set up Saturday for free make-and-take crafts,” Howie said.

Look for two-dimensional and three-dimensional works in a wide range of media. In addition to painting, sculpture and other traditional media, students are working in paper sculpture and “a good mix of media,” Howie said.

“My students built their own canvases,” Howie said.

Keep an eye out for a variety of ceramic works too, because “almost every school in the county has a kiln,” according to Howie.

This year’s Fine Arts Fair began Thursday with secondary drum line and color guard performances by groups from Orange, Madison, Culpeper and Rockingham schools and continued Friday with instrumental and choral performances by student ensembles from Orange County Middle School and Orange County High School.

“Saturday is for the little ones,” said Howie.

The return of the Fine Arts Fair is particularly pleasing to Howie, who fondly remembers participating during her student days in Orange County schools.

“This is my 10th year teaching at the school, and I graduated from it,” she said. “I’m very passionate about the arts in the schools.”

Over the years, Howie has noticed trends emerging in the students’ work as they use art to address and explore the world around them, especially a greater awareness of “the connectivity of the world.” Topics close to home continue to fuel high-quality art projects, but students aren’t limiting themselves.

“The biggest change that I’ve noticed is their ability to get inspiration from social media and the internet,” Howie said. “Some of the ideas they come up with are tied into world issues.”

The Fine Arts Fair is free.


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