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Kids capture American spirit in MOCA’s patriotic art exhibit
Cathedral Arts Project’s “Best of the Best” exhibit is in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Education Gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Painted sculpture by 4th-grade student Ahlam EL hajjaji from Arlington Heights Elementary.
Painting by Jaden Doig, a 3rd-grade student at Garden City Elementary.
Some of Duval County’s youngest emerging artists are showing their work in the Cathedral Arts Project’s “Best of the Best” exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Cathedral Arts Project Associate Director Jeff Smith said traditionally, the annual juried exhibit of art by CAP students is shown Downtown at the Main Library, but this year, MOCA, which is next door to the library along Laura Street at Hemming Plaza, is the venue.

“MOCA is big time,” Smith said.

He credited museum Director Marcelle Polednik with inviting the students to exhibit at one of the premier contemporary art museums in the Southeast.

“She is very receptive to partnerships with arts organizations,” said Smith.

Cathedral Arts was founded in 1993 at St. Johns Episcopal Cathedral by a group of volunteers who wanted to provide children in the urban core the opportunity for an education in the arts.

The effort started with one dance class that was attended by 10 students from a transitional housing facility.

By 1996, Cathedral Arts had partnered with 13 Duval County public elementary schools to provide after-school dance classes at no cost to students. Three years later, programming expanded to include instruction in visual arts and violin.

The organization was incorporated as a 501c3 charity in 2000 and has since added classes in choral music and drama and a band program.

This year, Cathedral Arts programs will serve 1,450 students twice each week at 26 schools and community centers, Smith said.

Areas of arts education include classic and rhythmic ballet, jazz, West African dance, ballroom dance, drumming, chorus, drama, painting, sculpture and ceramics.

The classes also teach students life skills such as self-discipline, teamwork and perseverance, said Smith.

The 2012 exhibit has as its theme “America the Beautiful.” Work by Catheral Arts Project students, enrolled in nine schools, was selected from hundreds of entries.

“It’s very patriotic. We wanted to celebrate America’s diverse landscape and its people,” said Smith.

“Best of the Best” is on exhibit through Aug. 31 in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Education Gallery at MOCA.

For museum hours, admission and membership information, visit mocajacksonville.org.

mmarbut@baileypub.com

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