Kids reveal artistic talent

Nathalie Van der Baan's 8-year-old daughter, Julie, has always had a knack for art, and this summer her creativity and skill will be on display during a Laguna Beach tradition.

The second-grade student at Top of the World Elementary School created a vase in three weeks in an after-school ceramics class, and the object will greet visitors during the Festival of Arts' Junior Art Exhibit from June 30 through Aug. 31.

Julie's piece, titled "Colorful Coil Pot," is a rimmed bowl with miniature ceramic balls evenly spaced atop the vase's rim.

Festival jurors chose 50 pieces for display in the three-dimensional category, one of four divisions in the Junior Art Exhibit, said Kathy Pitts, the festival's assistant exhibits director.

A total of 300 pieces were chosen for all four categories, which include two-dimensional, photography and Very Special Art (special-needs children), Pitts said.

"This is a big deal," Pitts said of being selected to display at the festival.

Public, private and home-schooled students from kindergarten through 12th grade may submit entries for the exhibit, according to Pitts.

Julie isn't the only Top of the World second-grade student chosen to display work in the three-dimensional category. Festival jurors selected ceramic pieces from Hannah Williams and Owen Blum.

Laguna Beach Unified School District officials recognized Julie's project at a recent board meeting attended by Julie, her mother, Nathalie, father Bastiaan and brother Finn.

"She's always been into art," Nathalie said of her daughter in a phone interview. "She loves creating things at home. I don't know where she got [a liking for art]. Finn has no interest in art, just sports."

At home Julie has made bracelets, but it was at school where Julie designed and made her vase.

Julie was one of 12 students in Torii Cooper's after-school ceramics class last spring. Students in grades 1 through 3 met for eight weeks.

Julie's project, made of clay, took two class periods to build and one to glaze, Cooper said.

Students began the class learning to work with their hands to make coils and balls used in their projects.

The design was all Julie's idea, Cooper said.

"She is gifted with her hands and has a good sense of craft," said Cooper, who emailed students she thought should submit entries to the Irvine Fine Arts Center's Imagination Celebration, an annual exhibit featuring artwork by students ages 5 to 18 from 30 Orange County schools, according to the center's website.

Julie's vase was on display in May at the Imagination Celebration.

Festival jurors chose pieces for the Junior Art Exhibit from the Imagination Celebration.

The vase weighs 7 to 8 pounds, Pitts said, and incorporates all of Julie's favorite colors: blue for the bowl portion, light green for the rim and orange for the miniature balls on the rim. Julie painted the inside red.

Nathalie and Julie discussed where the vase should go in the house, though it is staying at the festival through the summer exhibit.

"It makes for a nice entrance on the dining room table," Nathalie said. "But Julie said, 'No, it should be in my room.'"

The exhibit is free for Laguna Beach residents, Pitts said

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