Colorful, imaginative, fun student art show
The annual Student Art Show, hosted by Boothbay Region Art Foundation, is a treasure trove of creative expression. As you walk in the front door of the Art Foundation, your eyes may seem like they are attempting to see everything in the line of view and peripherally – simultaneously! The work in this year’s show is actively competing for your attention!
All students attending Boothbay Region Elemenatary School, Boothbay Region High School, Edgecomb Eddy School and Southport Central School have at least one piece of their artwork from the current school year displayed. Region art teachers Manon Lewis (BRHS), Jessica Nadeau (BRES), Liz Proffetty (Southport) and Robin MacCready (Edgecomb), make the hard decisions about which works will become part of the show.
To your left as you walk into the exhibition are several species of birds – in acrylics on paper and as mosaic sculptures.
“I love the birds,” Lewis said. “I got the idea after attending a workshop at Haystack last fall where I did prints of seagulls. It got me interested in birds in flight. This started out as a piece for the cafeteria. The birds were going to be coming from a tree, but it took longer than I expected and the students really loved their birds and wanted to take them home.”
This assignment began with gestural drawings of a bird of the student’s choice that were then painted in acrylics and traced from the painting onto a template. The templates were attached to pieces of plywood that were cut into the bird form with a jig saw.
“We broke some plates – the kids love doing that – and some glass, pounded them and then attached them to the plywood forms,” Lewis said.
The bird wall is outstanding. Birds range from seagulls to a toucan, and can be perused in a Hitchcock-free zone!
Page with a message/block out poetry: Each year, BRHS art teacher Manon Lewis selects a book from which her students can tear a page and then highlight a message from the text.
“This assignment is about making a statement on a social issue, and this year, we began working on the block out poetry right after the Parkland shootings,” Lewis said. “And some of the students chose to make their statement about them. This year the book I chose for the pages was “Motherless Daughters” because I knew there would be some strong words. I love this assignment because people choose words that they might not use. The words are already there – they just have to find them.”
Isabel Harkins’ block out poetry image depicts a school hallway. Her statement: “One by one. Left to right. Down the hall something happened. I lived, she died. Beautiful friend. Who would understand? Rallies, petitions, resistance. The last days we’d shared.”
The examples of this assignment in the show are always thought-provoking, always exceptional.
Drawing their breath: Nadeau borrowed this idea from a Mindful Stitching workshop she attended this spring during the Art Education Conference in Ashland.
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to do (stitching) with my younger students, but I thought the drawing breath part was pretty cool,” Nadeau said. “After we had been focusing on our breath as we breathed in deeply, then exhaled, Bobbi (Tardif, instructor) told us to find a place to put our pencils down, take a slow, deep breath and make a mark on the paper as we exhaled. I came back from the conference determined to bring it to my classroom.”
And she did, complete with beautiful music, “Zen Garden” tunes on Amazon. Nadeau used a public radio voice welcoming the students into the classroom and asking them to take a seat.
“They loved it. Instead of stitching they added patterns, similar to ZenDoodles to their breath marks to complete the paintings,” Nadeau said.
And they are all pretty awesome – some curve, some are straight, some breath lines go right to the end of the paper, some half way, others somewhere in-between. Don’t miss these in the back, on the left just past the Southport Central School gallery. They will leave you … breathless!
You won’t be able to miss the cakes – created as part of a study of art of Wayne Thiebold, an artist known for, among other things, his bright paintings of cakes and pastries. This study of technique, light and shadow is delicious fun.
Profetty said the study of Asian art began just after school resumed in the new year, including studying Chinese New Year and Japanese culture.
“I have a daughter who went to Japan as an exchange student and that got me interested in it,” Proffetty explained. “She was actually at the school last Thursday to have a Japanese tea party with the kids and make clay tea bowls with them.”
The students have worked with a variety of media – watercolor, inks, acrylics and … bubblewrap! Yes, bubblewrap is ideal for creating the scaly texture of dragon skin.
All of the Asian-influenced pieces in the art show are so impressive. You’ll be saying, “and these were done by 7-year-olds!” For example, “Cherry Blossoms”: The stems were created by lightly blowing India ink with a straw across the paper! The pink blossoms with dabs of paint.
The landscape by Liam Scott is done with ink and different Sumi brushes. Proffetty said the students learned how to water down the ink to achieve various tones. The “Tulips” by Kayla Watts were created – the flowers, not the stems – by dipping the backs of plastic forks in paint and then applying them to the paper to create texture. Proffetty said this is a beginners printing process art lesson for kindergarteners.
Author-teacher-artist Robin MacCready always pairs art with social studies at the Edgecomb school. Art in the show by her students includes the study unit on butterflies and the four seasons; Asian studies included the creation of Mandalas. One lovely example is by Maeve Cullina, in neutrals of black, white and browns.
Students also explored watercolors and different techniques – wet on wet, dry on wet – MacCready encouraging them to let their imaginations come into play. Kindergarten students created turtles with tempura paints and did crayon relief projects.
“It’s always very hard to decide on which works to include in the student art show,” said MacCready. “We have 90 students at the school. I tend to go for something that really stands out that I think will grab the viewer’s attention.”
MacCready isn’t alone. All of the art teachers have to make the same decisions every year. And every year those decisions delight and intrigue the parents, families, friends and neighbors of the students in the Boothbay region.
The show will remain up for four more exhibition days, May 18-20. BRAF is located at 1 Townsend Ave., Boothbay Harbor. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. And don’t forget to stop by the golden mail box at the BRAF desk to leave your favorite artists fan mail!