Westwood View Elementary School art teacher Paige Crosswhite will once again get to paint a piece of Kansas City history and invites her students to be a part of it! Crosswhite, along with 99 other local artists in the community, was selected to paint one of the five-foot, KC Heart statues for the 2024 Kansas City Parade of Hearts.
“Paige is an outstanding, really talented, artist,” said Megan Ellis, the K-12 Visual Arts coordinator for Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD). “She's also a really engaging, vibrant human. Her art is a beautiful visual representation of her crazy, unique, outgoing, fun, and spontaneous personality.”
This will be Crosswhite’s second opportunity to participate in the Parade of Hearts. Last year, her heart entitled “Sing Out” depicted a maximalist-style jazz scene that aimed to capture the beauty of the diverse community throughout Kansas City. Crosswhite says she collaborated with her kindergarten through sixth grade students and that made the piece particularly special.
Students helped Crosswhite fill in a rainbow spanning the base and border of the heart, with each brush stroke symbolizing a student or community member that Crosswhite had influenced.
“Getting the heart solidified the fact that I'm a teacher and an artist,” said Crosswhite. “It was really nice to be able to do that and it was such a fun way to include my kids in something big.”
While the opportunity is a fun honor, Crosswhite says there’s a bigger lesson for students in her participation.
“It is important to see adults in your life as being diverse and more than whatever their title is,” explained Crosswhite. “I think that's important to show kids that you can be passionate about multiple things and that you can include others.”
“Education is not something that should be occurring in a bubble. We are producing members of our community, and we want to prepare our students to experience and interact with the world that they live in,” Ellis added. “The best way to do that is by connecting what's happening in the building to the community- connecting what our personal hobbies, interests, and passions are to our students.”
True to her style, Crosswhite’s plans for her second heart are bold. She’s created a floral design with vibrant orange flowers, meant to symbolize strength and liberation. She also hopes to include her students and the community once again.
All of the KC Hearts are auctioned off and displayed throughout the city with the proceeds supporting local non-profits and the arts community in the Kansas City Region.