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Elementary students acting as art aficionados at upcoming St. Louis Art Fair

CLAYTON, Mo. – The 25th anniversary of the St. Louis Art Fair is just around the corner. This showcase of creativity attracts artists from all parts of the world and is a major draw for students with an eye for art.

Sixth graders at The Wilson School are still young but they qualify as student art aficionados at the St. Louis Art Fair. The program helps them understand both business and art, according to Sean Smothers, art fair president.

“We give them a budget with two tasks to accomplish: to buy artwork for the traveling public art collection and to buy artwork for their own school that becomes a permanent piece of the school,” Smothers said.

This is the second year for the program. Thirteen schools participate. They are given a curriculum by art fair officials. To pay for their selections, schools receive $750 to purchase a piece for the school and $750 to purchase a piece for the traveling collection.

You may wonder just how they go about selecting the artist and the pieces they will buy. After all, 181 artists participate in the fair.

Diane Signor, the art teacher at The Wilson School, is excited about what students are learning.

“They end up researching all the artists through the St. Louis Art Fair website and they make a list of their favorite artists,” she said.

After reviewing pictures and bios, each student votes for their top five artists. Their teacher then took that list and narrowed it down to the top 16.

Then the students will vote for the top two. It is a process, but one with great benefits.

“Kids are learning things like budgeting. You have to know how much you can spend on any given piece. You have to know how well it travels. You have to be pretty strategic in the pieces that you choose,” Smothers said.

Last year, Wilson students bought two glass vases and a photograph.

The St. Louis Art Fair in Clayton starts Friday, September 7 at 5 p.m. and runs through Sunday, September 9 until 5 p.m.