A group of Fremont Middle School students got an artistic treat Tuesday morning.
Axton Kahler’s eighth-grade art students and students in Heather Schuster’s English Language Learners class went to Gallery 92 West and had the chance to learn from resident artist Peggy Jones.
Jones, a working artist and writer and professor of black studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, guided the students through the art gallery’s “Railroads and the Making of Modern America” exhibit that is part of the Sheldon Museum of Art Statewide Traveling Show.
“The big draw for me was giving kids another perspective to see art through,” Kahler said. “I work with them every day and they understand my perspective rather well. That’s the brilliant thing about art is that everybody’s perspective brings a different point of view. ... Ultimately that’s the goal of a good art program is you learn those different perspectives and learn to see things in a different way.”
Jones used the Sheldon exhibit to get the students to examine the effects trains and railways have had on people in urban and rural settings.
“With this exhibit talking about railroads and what it did to modern America, it’s the fact that it enable the movement of people, of things and even ideas,” Jones said. “... I think it’s just to get a sense of how we as humans interact with our environment.”
Jones also is scheduled to conduct a pair of workshops with students at the school.
“I think I just love getting out and about,” she said. “Right now in the college classroom we just focus so much on philosophical concepts and theoretical concepts, and I miss the art. I’m just blessed, I feel, to get the opportunity not just to be in the art arena, but getting to share and getting to see it through their eyes and see what their teachers have kind of had conversations about.”
The Sheldon Museum of Art is funding Jones’ residency in Fremont, Kahler said, and there is no cost to the school district or students.
“It’s amazing to have the kids have this opportunity and to have an institution like the gallery and the art association supporting the learning and taking the learning outside of the walls of the building,” Kahler said. “This is stuff that I could talk and talk and talk about in the classroom. I could show digital pictures, I could show slides, I could show movies, and it’s not going to mean as much to the kids as getting out, even within the community. ... You can’t replicate this kind of learning in a classroom.”
The Sheldon exhibit will be at Gallery 92 West until early February.
“This show, to me, belongs in Fremont because Fremont wouldn’t be Fremont without the rail system,” Kahler said. “If you look at our community’s history, it’s a huge driver for it.”