The Norcross Art Fest is this weekend and students all over Norcross have been getting ready by painting chairs.
Chairs for Charity raises money, which goes to the participating schools' art programs, by having students paint chairs and selling them to the highest bidder. The silent auction runs during the Art Fest, ending at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The festival is scheduled 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday in historic downtown Norcross.
This year the students are not just decorating chairs — they’re also painting mailboxes. And that’s not the only expansion. Last year’s Chairs for Charity booth was so popular, they’re getting two tents and doubling the space this year.
“We raised just over $1,400 [last year],” said Chairs for Charity volunteer, Arlene Beckles.
Bids start at $20 and go up in $5 increments for both the chairs and the mailboxes. Next year Beckles will also be taking donations for wooden benches, tables and walkers, beginning in January.
donated more than 70 chairs last year and Beckles was able to stretch them out over this year but, “I’m completely out of chairs now,” she said.
Beckles got involved with the project after frequently hearing about how art programs are having their funding cut. “I started talking to a lot of the art teachers and they would say, ‘Oh, we need money for this and money for that,'" she stated.
Barbra Willis, an art teacher at , said the school used last year’s money to enhance its end-of-the-year art show. “We hadn’t had refreshments for that art show before. So it made it truly like an art reception,” she explained.
Willis said not all of the chair-painters are art students, but they’re all very interested in art. This gives them the chance to do an art project even if their schedule doesn't allow for a class.
“I do enjoy painting the chair,” said Norcross High School student Georgia Clark. “This is my brainchild.”
Originally, Clark didn’t get the type of chair she wanted, so she went to Goodwill and bought her own.
“And so my brainchild is this 'Harry Potter' chair and I absolutely adore it,” she said. “I like the chair project because it really gives me such an opportunity to do something that I want to do.”
Clark said she doesn’t plan to bid on the Harry Potter chair because she’s hoping it will go for more than she can afford, but if no one is paying attention to it, she’ll definitely intervene.
Jadea Harrison, a student whose chair is inspired by the contrast of warm and cool colors, said she does plan to bid on her own chair.
“I see some other really good ones that I would like to bid on also,” she said. “I will definitely be there.”
Chair-painter Alexis Roseberry said she’ll be attending the Art Fest too. Her favorite part of the project is seeing who buys the chairs. However, she’s not going to bid on her chair; she has no use for it.
“It’s a baby, almost toddler, chair,” she explained. “So we were going to do cartoons but then we thought that it would be a little too old so we did crayons and Crayola because all kids love drawing.”
Beckles would probably agree with that statement. Her favorite part of volunteering for Chairs for Charity is witnessing how much the students enjoy the project and seeing the smiles on their faces.
“I know that art helps students feel successful. And they build their confidence in themselves,” said art teacher Ashley Getz. “You know art isn’t an easy subject. There’s a lot of technique, there’s a lot of process involved. And when they can try something they’ve never done before and be successful at it, then they just grow so much from this.”