First Graders work on their Starry Night artwork. Submitted photo.

By Merry Bradshaw

Lori Raines is living her dream of being a teacher combined with her love of art at Virgin Valley Elementary School. For the past 23 years Raines has been the art teacher for VVES students, Kindergarten through 5th grade.  After graduating from Southern Utah University, Raines secured her first teaching job in Las Vegas. Then she saw the elementary art teacher position posted for Mesquite and as the saying goes, the rest is history.

At the front of her classroom three inspirational messages are posted for students to think about every time they enter her room; “Create Art for You,” “Let your Artwork be your Journal,” and “If you don’t allow yourself to make mistakes you’ll never be original.”


Mattie Hughes adds finishing touches to her snake painting. Submitted photo.

When asked why art is important to kids, Raines explained, “Art opens the brain for higher levels of learning. It is the only subject that can engage all 8 intelligences.” She went on to say, “Art is everywhere, even on your cereal boxes you see each morning.”

Raines follows the state and district standards for visual arts. As students exit her room each day they are reminded of the 14 elements of art they will learn during the year. Raines explained that she tries to incorporate at least one if not more of these elements into each project students create. Just looking around the room you could quickly see artwork showing the elements of shape, pattern, emphasis and color.

When asked, “Why do you like art?” students didn’t hesitate to respond. Fifth grade student, Shaynie said, “I like that we get to be creative with our ideas.” Mason explained he liked to draw and he liked working with colors. Samantha, another 5th grader busy finishing an assignment said, “I like art because I can do it anywhere. If I can’t explain something in words, I can explain it in a drawing.”

During May, 150 of Raines’ students will have their artwork displayed along with other student artwork from schools throughout the Virgin Valley area at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery. “It was hard to choose which pieces of artwork to select,” Raines said. She sees over 700 students a week as they come into her classroom for their weekly art lesson. The two-dimensional pieces that will be on exhibit in May from her students will include Egyptian portraits drawn on paper aged with tea, cityscapes showing perspective in watercolor, etchings created with oil pastels and some awesome Aboriginal snake paintings.  Student created ceramics will be highlighted in the exhibit too.

As students eagerly worked on their art projects Raines looked around her busy classroom and said it best, “Can you imagine a world without art?”

The Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery at 15 W. Mesquite Blvd. is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The student exhibits will be on display May 4- 29, 2015.