Adele Breece Stella Parsons

Adele Breece, 12, left front, and Stella Parsons, 11, have made their mothers Patricia Breece, left, and Adriana Parsons proud over their artistic accomplishments at the International School of Arizona.

International School of Arizona students swarm the cafeteria, fluently speaking to one another – and their parents – in French. 

Sixth-grader Stella Parsons, 11, darts toward a large canvas bag stretched full of her framed artwork.

“Why are you carrying that big bag around? You can leave it there if you want,” says her mother, Adriana Parsons. 

“They’re like my children!” Stella responds, throwing the straps over her shoulder. 

ISA, located in southern Scottsdale, maybe a French and Spanish language immersion school, but art is also at its core of its courses and programming.

Students like Stella and seventh- grader Adele Breece, 12, are two budding artists who will take part in ISA’s upcoming – and first-ever – art exhibition, called Vernissage, on Sept. 21.

Taking place at Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, the exhibition is free and open to the public and will feature the works of ISA students between fourth and eighth grade. 

The art on display will include everything from photography and watercolors to canvas and sculptures. 

“We are always trying to find ways to give our students a chance to shine, to be acknowledged and to give them opportunities to excel. In those conversations, the idea for an expo came about for the students we have who are artists – students who paint, who sculpt, who take photographs and/or have worked on their art. We came to realize that one way to give them an opportunity to present their work, their hard work and passion for expressions was to hold an expo,” said ISA Marketing and Development Manager Gurpreet Takher.

Takher called the expo the “perfect platform at the right time” and hopes the expo is the first of many art shows and exhibitions hosted by ISA.

“In the same fashion, we are currently working on themes and ideas to help give our poets, writers, singers, musicians a chance to shine, too. We are committed to helping our students find their dreams and passions,” he added. 

Stella and Adele are passionate about art.

“I think I came out of the womb creating art,” Stella said, to which her mom laughed and nodded in agreement. 

“I love it,” Stella continued. “It’s my passion, and I’ve always loved to create, not even just painting. I also like to write a lot, so I try to incorporate that in everything I do.”

Adele, a painter and sketcher, agrees.

“I want to incorporate art into my job and my hobbies,” she said.

At the expo, Takher hopes to have 20 to 25 pieces on display. 

“The submissions are still coming in,” he said. “This is our first go-round at this and some students may be a bit shyer than others, so it is difficult to say how many will contribute.”

In addition to art, the expo will have live music performed by a student, parent or teacher.

“We are working on a student of the school to DJ the event and are confident a member of our school will perform,” Takher said, adding that they’d also like to have food vendors on-site.

“We are awaiting commitments from food vendors who may be able to offer food or samples to visitors,” he said. “The event will be a joyous occasion where our community and the Valley at large will be able to come and support art.”

According to Adriana, the parents and ISA staff brainstormed the idea for the art exhibition a few months ago. 

“Sports always gets such a spotlight, and that’s a physical activity, but this is a different outlet in a different way for kids to express themselves and it usually gets kind of pushed in the back burner. So, I really appreciate that,” she said. “It’s really great to see the first one of its kind.”

It’s this precise reason Takher hopes other schools follow suit.

“Every school with an art program or with students who are artists should consider this, as sometimes those very artists are the shyest or quiet. They sometimes never get a chance to explain how wonderful they truly are. By giving them a platform, we can give them a voice through their art,” he said.

ISA’s commitment to the arts was rewarded in May 2018, when the nonprofit school received a generous donation to transform a storage room into what’s now known as the school’s Creative Visual Arts Center, which opened August 2018.

Since then, ISA teachers have utilized the space to incorporate art into their respective lessons and projects.

 “Art should be incorporated with everything,” Adele said. “There should be more art. We should be more creative, and art is an amazing activity and amazing hobby and I think everyone should get a little piece of that, if it means poetry or movies or photography.”

Stella said she hopes the community attends ISA’s upcoming art exhibition because, as her mother said earlier, it’s a sport too, it should receive attention.

“It’s not a physical sport, but it takes energy and time, and I’ve poured my soul into these pieces. I think they’re worth sharing and maybe my art will change someone else,” she said.

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