Area students share art with Russia

Published 6:50 pm Saturday, April 21, 2012

Washington has its own ambassadors to Russia.

John and Natalya Pawlick want to open communication between America and Russia and are starting in their own backyard with “Pets — The First International Showing of Children’s Art,” now exhibiting in the Nature Room at North Carolina Estuarium.

The show features artwork from students at Emmanuel Christian School in Washington, Chocowinity Middle School and an English-teaching school in Russia.

Natalya Pawlick thought an art exchange between young students might be a great way to begin building a relationship between the two countries on a community level.

“Children have their own language. It’s a special language. There are no barriers,” Pawlick said.

The idea for the art exchange materialized following a successful exchange the Pawlicks helped with last October between Russian K-9 police and K-9 police in Washington.

Around that time, Pawlick saw a child’s drawing of an animal and an idea was born. “I very much love animals and children,” Pawlick explains. “Animals teach children about love and no matter what your nationality is, love is love.”

And art is art.

Pawlick contacted a childhood friend who teaches English at a school in her hometown of Yekaterinburg, a city of 2.5 million people in the Ural region of Russia. Teachers there thought it was a great idea, too, and so it began, she said.

Pawlick invited children from the Emmanuel and Chocowinity schools to create artwork about their pets. Teachers in Russia invited their students to do the same.

The local artwork traveled to Russia with Pawlick late last year and was shown at the school for three months alongside the works created by the Russian students. The Russian school — New School No. 184, which teaches only in English — prepared a gala opening event with the art exhibit, dancing and singing, Pawlick said. The students later were asked to vote for their favorite pieces of art from each American school.

Pawlick returned to the states with the artwork and six certificates to be awarded to the six children whose art was voted most liked — Logan Braxton, Emily Jackson and Daisey Foster from Emmanuel Christian School and Kylie Dixon, Dylan Modlin and Jomei Schuman from Chocowinity Middle School. Pawlick plans to award the certificates at the end of the exhibit.

To continue the exchange, students at the Emmanuel and Chocowinity schools are being invited to view the artwork on exhibit and vote for their favorite pieces of Russian art. Awards will then be created for the Russian children and sent back to them, Pawlick said.

“This is the very first time there’s been an exchange between the Russian and (North Carolina) schools,” Pawlick said, describing her excitement about the exhibit.

Her hope is that this initial exchange leads to a fuller exchange program for children in Washington and Yekaterinburg.

To view the exhibit, visit the Estuarium Tuesdays through Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Stop at the front desk in the main lobby and a volunteer will provide directions to the Nature Room.