The arts abounded at the Kyrene Elementary School District's head office this week.
Hundreds of pieces of work from students all over the district were on display at the district's annual art show, and one student was honored for winning a statewide essay contest on the role art plays in creativity.
Art and art teachers are an important part of the district, Superintendent David Schauer said at the show's grand opening Tuesday.
"Fine arts is alive and well in Kyrene," Schauer said. "We don't view these programs as optional. We believe they are an integral part of education."
Schauer also had praise for Nina Ziegler, a fifth-grade student at Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary School. Nina won an essay contest through the Arizona Alliance for Arts Education, earning the top prize in the fourth- through sixth-grade category with an essay titled "How the arts help develop my imagination."
"Art is, essentially, derived from pure creativity," Nina said, reading from her essay at the grand opening. "The arts make imagination thrive. When I draw or paint, I feel like the canvas is relying on me to create something stunning."
Nina's essay went on to discuss artists she admires, including Georgia O'Keefe, Wayne Thiebaud and Vincent van Gogh. She also talked about how getting involved in one type of art can expand your imagination in several areas, using her brother's talents in both drawing and sculpting as an example.
Nina said her favorite mediums are pastels and oils, although she also dabbles in watercolor. She's going to use the $150 she won in from the essay contest for art supplies.
A still life Nina created is also one of the many pieces of artwork on display. Other students created a wide variety of work, including landscape paintings, portraits, examples of different types of weaving, papier-mâché and clay sculptures and painted sushi plates.
The show ends at 5 p.m. Friday at the district's Ben Furlong Center, 8700 S. Kyrene Road in Tempe.