DALLAS — Dallas ISD and the Dallas Education Foundation is fundraising by showcasing teachers’ artwork in an auction at the Music Hall at Fair Park during and after the State Fair of Texas, with all the money being invested back into the students.
The HEART OF TEACHING campaign is a tribute to more than 10,000 teachers in Dallas ISD and an opportunity to recognize their talents. Many of the teachers are working artists themselves, and 60 of their pieces are on display until Oct. 25, and are available for bidding. All proceeds support the Dallas Education Foundation as they work to fund equity-minded programming district-wide.
“Our educators have a heart for teaching, and we are incredibly appreciative to have the opportunity to elevate our Dallas ISD art teachers with this exhibit. The foundation’s positive impact is deep, and the exhibition along with the evening reception, is the perfect launch to the foundation’s annual campaign,” said executive director of the Dallas Education Foundation Mita Havlick.
One of the teachers whose artwork is featured at Fair Park is Noemi Beltran, who works at W.T. White High School. She says the district is giving her and her fellow working artist colleagues the chance to get exposure, all for a good cause.
“If I know that I'm doing it for a good cause, I have zero problems with donating artwork for something good,” Beltran said. "I mean it's definitely a great opportunity that I didn't think we would be offered ever. And I really appreciate the district and the Dallas Education Foundation for believing in us, and for giving us that opportunity.”
During her Spectrum News 1 interview, Beltran was working on an acrylic painting of a little girl in a dress wearing a Rey Mysterio mask. She said the idea came to her to contrast the innocence of the little girl who is dreaming of being whoever she wants to be.
“[She] is looking into a mirror and sees herself and sees all the possibilities of what she can be. And that's kind of what I encourage my students, that's why I became an art teacher. It wasn't because — you know, a lot of people say ‘oh, the summers,’ or that kind of thing — it's really just about empowering my students to see everything that they're capable of,” Beltran said.
Beltran said there is still a stigma surrounding pursuing a career in art, one she tries to help her students see past.
“A lot of them still have that mentality that if they follow art, they’ll be a starving artist, whereas I really don't think that is true in today's day and age,” Beltran said. “I think if you want something, you really can go out there and get it and there are a lot of careers that really cater to the arts. It is definitely changing from like painting to a little bit more of like web design, digital art, video game design. Those fields are the ones that I definitely encourage my students to pursue."
Beltran's art is her side hustle, along with creating polymer clay earrings. While she is comfortable on her teacher salary, being able to get some extra income to buy supplies is helpful.
"For my students personally, I try to provide as much of the materials as possible so that they don't have to use their own money out of pocket to purchase supplies,” Beltran said. "I mean, the district provides a lot, but I will have those special students that just don't have any money. And they need canvases and it's like if there's a contest going on, then I'll just quickly go out to Michael's and get a canvas. So just having that extra little bit of money really helps to like offset those kinds of costs.”
Beltran doesn’t show her artwork in galleries or have any studio space, so the opportunity to show her work at the State Fair of Texas is something she never thought she’d get the chance to do. Havlick said she’s happy to be able to give the teachers the recognition they deserve.
"They've never had a way to exhibit their work in such a public venue,” Havlick said. "It was actually a suggestion from the district. If we donate this artwork to the Foundation, will that benefit our Dallas ISD students and teachers and schools? And the answer is absolutely yes. We're pretty much dollar in dollar out. So when you donate to the Dallas Education Foundation, you are directly donating to Dallas ISD. I believe that teachers really look at this as an opportunity. And we certainly appreciate wholeheartedly, what they are doing to support not just the students in the classroom, but to support the foundation, which also supports our students.”
The Dallas Education Foundation’s 2021 HEART OF TEACHING annual campaign runs from Oct. 25 through Dec. 31.