The Year of Alabama Food

Published 11:00 pm Friday, May 11, 2012

The Alabama Tourism Department has designated 2012 as the Year of Alabama Food.

This is the second Year of Alabama Food promotion for the state’s tourism department and is in response to the overwhelming interest generated by the first promotion.

This year, students at two Troy schools were involved in the statewide program through TroyFest.

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Birmingham folk artist and TroyFest participant, She She, agreed to develop a project for students that would be environmentally friendly and coordinate with the Year of Alabama Food promotion.

“This was an opportunity for the students to participate in a collective art project and also to bring a different teacher in the classroom,” said Rob Drinkard, TroyFest chair.

“She She’s idea for the project was to let the students paint murals that featured products that were grown or produced in Alabama.”

Drinkard said a similar project was introduced about three years ago but the subject was Alabama emblems – the state flower, bird, etc. And, the 2012 mural project was a continuation of opportunities for students to learn about Alabama through art.

“For this art project, She She brought recycled tarpaper that she had primed. To prepare the students to paint the murals, She She told them stories about Alabama and the foods that are grown and produced here. Then, she let them paint the murals.”

She She had outlined the forms of fruits, vegetables and livestock that make up Alabama’s food basket.

Participating students were fifth graders at Troy Elementary School and fifth and seventh graders at Pike Liberal Arts School.

Jennifer Lindsey, art teacher at Troy Elementary School, said the project was a wonderful experience for the whole fifth grade at TES.

“It was an opportunity to participate in a hands-on project with an artist,” Lindsey said. “And the art project connected with subject matter than they had learned in the classroom in science and social studies.”

Lindsey said the students “had a ball’ with the project and were surprised at how beautiful their finished murals were.

“She She explained to the students how she uses art to express her feelings about many things including what is going on in the world,” Lindsey said. “Through her art, she can convey messages about politics and things that are special to her. She is a folk artist so she uses her art to tell stories. She taught the students a lot about the process of creating art and it was good for the students to have an artist come in and tell them why we should create art.”

Ceil Sikes, PLAS headmaster, agreed that the mural art project was an exciting and beneficial project for her students.

“The mural project helped the students learn so many skills,” she said. “They learned better how to work in a group and how to share their abilities. We had boys and girls working together on an art project that was not all flowers and sunsets.

“Much of the time, we see our students sitting at their desks with pen and paper but this art project was an opportunity for them to express themselves. We need to have projects that tap into their creativity much more than we do.”

Having an artist come into the classroom was a plus for the students. She She’s love of her profession was evident in her enthusiasm.

“She doesn’t view art as a profession but rather as a calling,” Sikes said. “Her enthusiasm was contagious and you could see the students blossoming as the project moved along.”

Drinkard said that She She paints with a purpose and the students who participated in the TroyFest school art project had an opportunity to paint with a purpose.

“This art project with She She was a great opportunity for these students and we plan to continue to have art projects as a part of TroyFest. We would like to offer this

opportunity to the county schools in the future.”

Drinkard said no definite plans have been made for where the murals will hang.

There is a possibility of the murals being displayed at the state tourism office and/or at state rest areas. The TroyFest committee will make a decision about the future of the murals.