Artsonia becoming established in Cassville school district

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
As she ties up loose ends on the last day of the school year, Cassville Intermediate School art teacher Tammi Wilkes takes a moment to reflect and look at students’ artwork on Artsonia from the year, including a project that involved using and blending the three primary colors: red, blue and yellow. Wilkes brought Artsonia, an online platform that publishes students’ artwork and makes it available for viewing by family members, to the school about two years ago. The program notifies parents by email when new artwork has been published, has a fan club for parents and other family members to leave comments, and has a variety of products the artwork can be transferred to, a percentage of which goes back to support the school. Students can also upload artwork they create at home or elsewhere to the site. The program is in its second year at the school, and next year, will be offered to primary students. Julia Kilmer/reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Online platform gives students their own virtual art gallery

In a world where art programs are often the first thing to be cut in education when funding gets tightened, Artsonia, the largest student art museum in the world, is giving art a new platform, and students significance, at Cassville Intermediate School.

Now its second year at the school, the online program that publishes students' artwork for family members to see and gives every child the chance to have their own virtual art gallery to showcase their masterpieces, has had 70 percent of parents sign on.

"Since I started Artsonia, I have had almost 18,000 visitors to the site," said Tammi Wilkes, Cassville intermediate art teacher who brought the program to the school. "I think that's pretty significant."

This year alone, Wilkes has published 4,800 pieces of students' art to the site, and says not only does everyone involved love it, but it gives students an opportunity to connect with their parents, and with each other.

"I think it provides a format and wonderful way for students to be able to communicate and share what they are doing with their parents," said Wilkes. "Artsonia is making connections, and promoting art and art programs, too. Kids can also see what other kids are doing. It's a win-win."

There's also just something about seeing one's work and name published online, which gives students recognition for their art.

Some of the program's features include notifying parents when a new piece of art has been finished, and a fan club that allows parents and extended family members to post positive feedback, which students can then see.

The fan club allows parents to see their child's artwork that they might not get to see otherwise.

"Having it online creates a lot more excitement, because, typically, parents don't get to see it unless they see it in the hallway when here for an event."

Students can also upload art completed at home, to the site.

"Any way you can celebrate that, even outside the classroom, that they are being an artist, is great," Wilkes said. "My philosophy is, we're all artists, whether it's photography, cooking, painting, designing, etc. I tell my students, 'Find that outlet, whatever that is, and do what makes you feel connected to your school, community and each other.'"

Having a platform for others to see and recognize their art and receive feedback is also boosting students' confidence, who may not otherwise think they have art ability.

"They [along with their artwork] are being recognized," Wilkes said. "I think it helps kids, because they're more interested in art, and their family can see their artwork, and other kids, too."

Misty Truman, third-grade teacher at the school, says her third-grade daughter, and family, loves the program, and agrees it boosts confidence.

"I really like it," she said. "When I was a kid, I always doubted my confidence in art. It's designed to build their confidence, and family members can view their artwork — parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. My daughter has always liked art, and I'm letting her know we are seeing her as an artist. It tells you each time there's a new piece of artwork, and she gets our comments, too. It gives kids the opportunity to get a lot of positive feedback."

Cassville Intermediate School Principal Eric White also likes and appreciates the benefits the program offers.

"Artsonia shows our students' ability and creativity," he said. "Multiple pieces of artwork can go online and be viewed by parents. It's a great program. I think you also get a truer representation of that body of work online rather than just putting it on a magnet."

Artsonia also features an Artist of the Week contest that features students' work from multiple school districts

Another perk of the program?

Parents can place their child's image on a wide variety of products, and are notified of special promotions.

"They even have Mother's Day sales," Truman said.

Having everything online also saves the school time and money.

"We don't have to go through the paperwork process of ordering products like magnets [to put images on] as in the past," said White. "The online process has made it more convenient, and much more worthwhile in the quality of the work students can do. I think it's really neat in today's digital world and a good thing to have at our disposal."

Even better, a percentage of the sales of products goes back to the school.

Next year, the program will expand and be offered to primary students as well, and Wilkes says she hopes to eventually get middle and high schools students on board. Her ultimate goal is for students from kindergarten through their senior year to have an online collection of their art.

"They'll have this wonderful portfolio of art they can take with them," she said.

To watch an introductory video about Artsonia, visit www.artsonia.com.

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