Martinsville, Virginia


Piedmont Arts’ Educational Outreach Brings Art to Area Schools

Piedmont Arts’ artistic reach extends far beyond its walls. This month alone, the museum brought arts education programs to five area schools and more than 350 students and community members as part of its Educational Outreach Program.

Piedmont Arts brought Brass 5, the Star City’s favorite brass quintet, to Albert Harris and Patrick Henry Elementary schools on February 5 and Carver and Drewery Mason Elementary schools on February 7. Brass 5 members Robert Chernault and Gerald Pope, who have been performing and educating students about all things brass for over 30 years, performed The Science of Sound – an exploration of the elements and characteristics of sound and sound energy that correlates with Virginia’s fifth-grade science SOLs.

The group covered new vocabulary and the elements of sound with more than 310 students and educators.

“It was nice to see students recognize and really respond to the lessons on the elements of sound,” said Education Coordinator Becki Williams Vasquez. "Several classes had just covered those SOLs in class and students were able to relate Brass 5’s lessons with what they learned in class in a hands-on way.”

Students also got to see first-hand how an oscilloscope and decibel meter operate and see what it takes to make an instrument from each of the four music families – brass, percussion, strings and woodwinds.

This marks the eleventh year Piedmont Arts has sponsored performances by Brass 5 in schools in Martinsville-Henry County.

“We love bringing Brass 5 into our schools,” said Williams Vasquez. “Their programs get students excited about music and how it can impact and shape our lives.”

The museum also hosted an encaustic painting workshop with artist Karen Eide at Magna Vista High School on February 14. Thirteen students from the art classes of Kristina Weldin and Kristin Riddle took part in the workshop, where they learned classic encaustic, or hot wax, painting techniques.

With Eide’s direction, students worked with heated, pigmented wax to paint individual artworks and explored how to combine encaustic with other contemporary artistic processes, like embellishment, image transfer, incising, collaging and creating marks and images with oil paint, pastels, markers and inks.

Eide's encaustic workshop is one of many programs offered by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to its Statewide Partners. As a Statewide Partner, Piedmont Arts can work with VMFA to bring educational programs, artist talks, exhibits and more to the community.

“We strive to bring top-quality educational programs to our schools,” said Williams Vasquez. “In many areas, the arts are overlooked, but working closely with the caring teachers and administrators in our community, we help to ensure that every child gets the chance to experience the arts in school.”

In celebration of Black History Month, Piedmont Arts hosted its annual African American Read-In and Family Day on February 23 at the museum. Around 40 community members took part in the event, which featured storyteller Fred Motley, displays of books by African American authors courtesy of Joyce Staples and Imogene Draper, as well as free crafts and snacks. This event was sponsored by Carter Bank and Trust.

In 2018–2019, Piedmont Arts brought 58 educational programs to the community and reached 4,857 students and community members. Upcoming educational outreach programs include Preschool in the Galleries on March 13 and April 17, in-school performances by Richmond Ballet on March 11, Artmobile Family Day on March 23 and Dance Español, an in-school residency by Southwest Virginia Ballet, April 1 – 12.

For more information on upcoming events, visit