Local artist fires up student imagination

On a ceramic plate for her mother, Poetica Munoz, 9, created a cluster of abstract designs.

"Since my mom likes nature and colors, I wanted to do one with seashells and ocean waves and the color of the sky," she explained. "She also likes the Fourth of July, so I did one of the colors of the American flag with dots."

Students throughout Fritsch Elementary School have worked with local artist Camille Howard over the past couple of months to create keepsakes as Mother's Day presents.

Howard, who owned a ceramics business for more than 30 years, now teaches the craft at the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada to children and adults.

When the school's parent-teacher association approached her about working with the students, she didn't hesitate.

"I like working with kids," she said. "They have such imaginations, to die for."

Through the artist-in-residence program, she volunteers her time and is reimbursed for supplies through the PTA.

Rather than choosing a class or grade level to work with, she decided to help the whole school.

"How could I choose?" she asked. "I have six kids. How could you choose one child over another?"

With the help of her husband, Paul, Howard teaches students how to paint their plates then collects them to take home where she will glaze and fire them.

"They see the dull colors right now," she said. "When they see it glazed and fired, it's like Christmas. They get so excited."

PTA president Erin Lehman said Howard has worked tirelessly to complete the project before Mother's Day on May 8.

"I'm getting great feedback from the teachers," she said. "I think it's the best art project we've had at the school."

David Chavez-Arnce, 9, was confident that his mother would be pleased with the gift.

"She likes whatever I make," he said. "I made her a picture last year with rocks and I took a picture inside a tree. She said, 'As long as you made it, I like it.'"皉


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