By Erika Webb
That first glimpse of the DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts poster is almost as exciting as the festival itself.
Express Printing owner Bobbi Baugh has been on the board of directors for one of DeLand's biggest annual events for three years. One of her duties is to serve on the featured artist selection committee.
Completely by coincidence, Ms. Baugh said, 21 artists were chosen to contribute to the final piece for the 21st festival, which will be on Nov. 23-24.
These artists not only create art, they create artists. Hence the poster theme: "Art teachers-Art makers."
They are elementary, middle and high school art teachers from schools throughout West Volusia.
"Art teachers are changing the future, making future artists and art appreciators," Ms. Baugh said.
They are delighted to be recognized.
"The committee met and started going through the process," Ms. Baugh said. "We have a number of artists (who participate) every year and any are worthy, but we wanted to do something a little different for the 21st year."
She said several years back the committee featured the art of a second grade student "because the display of children's art has been part of the festival from the beginning."
Student art is displayed in the rotunda of the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center each year.
"In that way, teachers have been part of the festival from the beginning," Ms. Baugh said. "They work their little shoes off."
The idea to do something for the teachers came to committee members spontaneously. Agreement was unanimous.
"I have never been in a board meeting where they made a decision that had so much enthusiasm (attached)," Ms. Baugh said. "The teachers have worked tirelessly with the children's display and get very little recognition."
Personal recollections impacted the board members' decisions.
"Among the board members, a bunch had personal anecdotes to tell how influential an art teacher was in their lives, their children's lives or grandchildren's lives. They realized how important art teachers are," Ms. Baugh explained.
Although Ms. Baugh didn't want to speak for the others on the committee regarding reason number three for the decision, she said she had a personal reason for wanting art teachers to be recognized this year.
"I think there's an anti-teacher bias out there right now," she said. "They all need to get more recognition."
Her desire to honor the teachers was shared by the rest of the board.
The sentiment was reciprocal.
Leslie Sutton Schmitz, a teacher at Spirit Elementary in Deltona, has taught art in Volusia county elementary, middle and high schools for 24 years.
Her piece, "Autumn Gold," is a fused glass and bead necklace. It will be on display in the teachers' booth near the corner of Woodland Boulevard and Indiana Avenue. A photo of the necklace is one component of the collage featured on the T-shirts and poster.
"One of the nicest things that happened to art teachers this year is the community gets to see that we really are artists and not just teachers," Ms. Schmitz said. "The idea is that a really good art teacher has to be an artist first ... in order to teach others to do art. This also shows students that art is a way of life and not something you stop doing when you leave the classroom."
Artists were invited to submit up to three works and were told that one of those would be selected for the festival art piece.
Clare Radigan has taught in Volusia schools for 18 years. She's been at River Springs Middle School since it opened in 2007. Her art contribution to the festival piece was an acrylic on canvas painting entitled "Departure."
"I thought it was pretty neat to include us," Ms. Radigan said in a phone interview. "I just really appreciate the people that organized the festival and acknowledged that we're encouraging the next generation of artists."
"For me, personally, as an artist and an educator (being featured) brings the two sides of my life together and lets the students see we are not only teachers but also artists," Ms. Radigan said. "We lead by example."
Tiffany Blushiy has taught in Volusia County schools for 26 years, eight of them at Freedom Elementary in DeLand. Her sculpture, "Woman in Stone," evolved from a college course assignment. She was given a rock, she said, and told to let it become what it was meant to be as she carved and polished. Her selected piece became a work of art without a preconceived idea involved.
Having her creation selected for the show was gratifying.
"It's been a great overall experience," Mrs. Blushiy said. "I think it's an honor that they chose us to do that and it's good that we get good publicity."
Melinda Mosely, who has taught at Taylor Middle School for 12 years, created "Butterflies" using Batik with needlepoint.
"It is such an honor to be given the opportunity to submit my work in this venue," Ms. Mosely said. "I love the Fall Festival of the Arts and am thrilled to be included!"
Public feedback has been great, Ms. Baugh said.
"We had the poster unveiling in September at the annual event for supporters and patrons," she said. "The audience enjoyed seeing what the art teachers made -- it was a great spectrum of stuff -- and the teachers were overwhelmed at having people stand up and clap for them."
"We had a vision of how wonderful it would be for someone to come to the festival with their child who might be in k through 12 and say, 'Wow! That's what my teacher made,'" Ms. Baugh said.
To view the individual artists and their works visit www.delandfallfestival.com/artists/php.