Views from the canvas
"Freedom," by Antonio Durham.
Views from the canvas

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

10/7/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Students' meditations on modern life on display at MMFA

Through the Artworks program at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, students have the opportunity to display their work alongside the masters.

Ten Maxwell students were selected to have their paintings and drawings included in the "American Scene 2011" exhibit at the museum. The exhibit, which features more than 50 pieces from River Region students in grade five through high school, runs through Jan. 8.

"Shows like this motivate students to work hard and really think about their work," said Mona Dunson, art teacher at Maxwell Elementary Middle School. "They participate in completion and understand how it can help you grow."

Inspired by the museum's current exhibit, "1934: A New Deal for Artists," the students were asked to create artwork showing American values and contemporary challenges.

"I read the synopsis the museum sent, and we discussed what we thought might work," Dunson said. "Then the students were allowed to choose their own medium to create their piece."

Dunson received 60 entries from fifth- through eighth-graders and submitted 31 to the museum. Ten were selected.

Since the students are children of service members, several incorporated military themes into their artwork, such as "Serving my Country" by Denise McDonald, grade 5.

Antonio Durham's multimedia piece titled "Freedom" featured images of the military and the phrase "freedom is not free."

"A couple of weeks ago, I heard an airplane came down," the sixth-grader said. "Many people lost someone, and it must hurt to lose someone close."

In "Family Tears - Daddy Died," Tiffani Neal depicted the struggles children face when a parent gives the ultimate sacrifice. "I was thinking about the war," the eighth-grader said. "My dad was overseas a couple of years ago, and it made me think of that."

The environment was a popular subject, such as in "We Are Consuming the Earth" by seventh-grader Olivia Anthony.

Rachel Landrum, grade 5, and Anthony Anderson, grade 6, painted scenes from an oil spill.

"Animals are starting to die because of the oil," Anderson said.

In his piece, "Stumps of Pollution," Caleb Killough, a seventh-grader, depicted the need for alternative energy sources, especially wind turbines and solar power.

Other artists addressed social issues. In "Bullying Hurts," Emily Beck, grade 7, painted the emotional impact when faced with a bully.

Maria Rossi, grade 8, depicted homelessness in "Lonely Road," and Amaris Tyynismaa, grade 5, painted a landscape in "Farming Crops."

Dunson said Maxwell students have been participating in museum exhibits since 2007, giving them the opportunity to learn what is available to them as young artists and develop their interest in the arts.

Neal said she was proud to have her drawing on display at the museum. "I thought it looked pretty good," she said.

Killough and his family visited the exhibit on the first day. "I thought it was awesome," he said.

For information on the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, visit