The Fairyland Family Art Exhibition, first conceptualized in 2004 by FES parent Laura Durell, has cultivated and refined an “anything goes” philosophy that enthusiastically encourages participation of Fairyland School students, their families and members of the community with a heartfelt commitment to the overarching premise that any and all creative endeavors deserve equal recognition. This year’s exhibit certainly lived up to this mission, displaying a collection of at least 200 striking and diverse pieces, which showcased not only an abundance of local artistic talent but also a creative and unique array of media, running the gambit from acrylic, watercolor and oil paints to glitter, wood, papier-mâché and even feathers!
Over the course of this daylong celebration of art, FES homeroom groups visited the show at staggered intervals to peruse the collection, taking particular delight in discovering the artwork of their schoolmates, their families and their neighbors on display. Additionally, it was a pleasure and an honor to once again welcome a busload of Thrive residents who have become long-term and enthusiastic patrons of the art show since Thrive opened eight years ago. In the late afternoon and into the early evening hours, the exhibit opened its doors to the wider community, welcoming a healthy turnout of Lookout Mountain locals as well as returning students, all there to admire the art and enjoy the delicious selection of appetizers, consisting of popcorn, cheese and crackers, strawberries, cheese puffs, Oreos, grapes and lemonade, all of which were ideal art show fare, without a doubt!
The true highlight of the day’s events, however, was undoubtedly the presence of this year’s artist in residence, Margaret Gaither. As special guest and featured artist, Margaret presided over the exhibition, displayed pieces of her personal art and addressed each homeroom group, explaining her artistic process and background. Especially fun was when Margaret invited everyone to partake in a school wide project whereby each student could add a few painted brush strokes onto a large canvas to ultimately create a collaborative acrylic paint rendering of FES. The finished product is bound to be a highly coveted item on the auction block at next year’s Music on the Mountain!
A resident of Lookout Mountain, by day Margaret is a mother of four FES students (Nora, William, Carson and Bennett) and, by night, she is a neonatal intensive care nurse. But when she is not spending time with her four beautiful children and husband, Will, or treating infants, Margaret is in her home’s basement studio creating stunning and texturally rich paintings, many of which feature the world’s most noteworthy and architecturally renowned cathedrals and churches, such as Notre Dame in Paris and the New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Trinity Church.
Margaret was homeschooled by her mother, also an artist, who inspired in Margaret a powerful and lifelong love and appreciation of art. As a young girl, Margaret took many art classes in her childhood hometown of Atlanta. In her teens, her art education was significantly broadened when Margaret’s homeschooling curriculum enabled her to travel throughout Europe and New York. It was these extended academic visits to Italy, Switzerland, France and the Hudson River Valley that exposed Margaret to the world’s most structurally and historically significant buildings and churches to which she is still drawn as an artist and feature so prominently in her artwork. Margaret earned a BFA at the Art Institute of Atlanta where her pieces were featured at her class’s graduation show. Starting out professionally as a graphic designer, Margaret later attended Georgia Sate University where, as a graduate student, she taught a course on art foundations and color theory.
Margaret’s philosophy that “art is the practice of identifying small areas of color, line, and light and layering them all together to create an image” is clearly visible in her artwork. Displayed on large canvases, her pieces often depict loose sketches of ornate churches. Margaret leans toward a mixed media and textured approach, creating art that employs “paint, ink, paper or whatever she can get her hands on.”
The students at FES were mighty lucky to spend some time with Margaret Gaither at the art show and to learn about her technique and her interesting background. With undeniable talent, an eye for the beauty that surrounds her and a rich artistic education and background, how fortunate for us that Margaret also possesses a generous spirit, eager to share her legacy of knowledge and her love of art not only with her own children, but with all the children.
Learn more at www.mgaither.com.
by Sally Burke