Norfolk art teacher creates virtual museum using students’ artwork


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Famous French painter Edgar Degas once said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 

One art teacher in Norfolk is giving her students a different point of view by showing they are just as creative virtually as they are in the classroom. 

For Southside STEM Academy art instructor Detra Johnson, there’s nothing a little splash of color can’t fix. 

“Creativity means the ability to use your imagination.” 

However, her students didn’t have the same enthusiasm once the pandemic hit, forcing them to learn through a computer screen. 

“A lot of them weren’t turning in completed work, so I was just trying to encourage them.” 

And her yearning to encourage, led to the creation of a virtual museum. 

Using Google pages, the elaborate gallery showcases the students’ work. There’s a Black History Month section and a tab to learn more about the artists. 

Now, students can’t wait to turn in assignments. 

“One student said, ‘Mrs. Johnson you put my picture in there yet?’” 

“Although we were in an online setting, she captured art and it was simply beautiful,” said Southside STEM Academy Principal Lenthia Willie-Clark. 

Johnson says being a museum curator is a full-time job, but if doing so encourages her students to see and live-in color, then it’s time well-spent. 

“I hope they walk away knowing they can. Not to quit, not give up. That everyone can create, art is everywhere. That they need art in every facet of their life.” 

Johnson says the virtual museum showcases more than 200 works of art. 

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