The Student Art Show at Boothbay Region Art Foundation (BRAF) opened May 14 showcasing artwork by students from Boothbay Region Elementary and High schools and Edgecomb Eddy and Southport Central schools in the main gallery downstairs.
The BRHS exhibit includes the wheel-shaped mandala composed of materials found in nature – leaves, rocks, branches and flowers; and handdrawn designs using Sharpie markers. Mandalas represent the universe in its ideal form and are used in meditation.
Said art teacher Manon Lewis, “We did a little more writing, more art history. I only had them in class twice a week. I had them do the art history portions of class. Pins made out of wire, they would study Alexander Caulder; Aboriginal paintings and students wrote about Aboriginal art; Abstract expressionism and they studied Jackson Pollock; the students made peace flags and studied Tibetan symbols and the Dali Lama.”
“I have less work this year, around 200 or so pieces. Even though they have materials at home, they don’t always do it,” Lewis said. “I really think the pandemic has changed our idea about education and that some kids may never come back to school.
“It makes me sad because I see so many wonderful things that have happened in the classroom – collaborating … lots of kids don’t even talk during class – scary and eerie how some didn’t take at all. Kids online at the same time as kids at home. It can be distracting being home … I’ll ask a student at home a question and there’s no answer … when they come back to the screen, and I ask where they were, they say letting the dog out or eating lunch.”
Lewis has created a relief sculpture made of wire with spaces to insert answers written on color paper to one of three questions. The students’ answers were already included before the show opened on May 14. The community is encouraged to answer one of the questions and insert their answers into the spaces.
Each student, and exhibition goer, answered one of these three questions: What do you hate about your experience in the pandemic; what positive aspect has come from the pandemic, or what have you learned from the pandemic experience.
Some answers included “So, so miss hugs;” “I hate only having school twice a week,” “… I miss my family and friends so much – you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.”
BRES art teacher Jessica Nadeau’s students completed most of their work at home. Each student artist in grades Pre-K through 8 have sketchbooks; each grade is presented in its own box. “We survived the pandemic. We all have to stay flexible. I started out the year teaching from a cart outside, it could tip over easily, but the kids loved it. Now I teach in the room and have my supplies and space. It feels the same. But, like Manon, the kids really didn’t talk as much in class.”
The wings installation, a very impressive exhibit, was inspired by the art of Kelsey Montague. Nadeau explained this artist creates these wings all over the world and created the #WhatLiftsYouSchools curriculum for teachers and students to learn about, and create, street art.
“Each student (approximately 310 at BRES) has only had art twice this year, in three-week rotations. With COVID-19, everything is different,” Nadeau said. “Almost all of the students’ work was done in sketchbooks that were taken home and ... are living documents that represent the students as individuals … it’s part of the process.”
Due to the need to adapt learning in the pandemic, there is less art on the walls, but what is there is quite interesting. Data drawings completed by each K-8 student use symbols to show who they are as individuals and what their interests are. The data drawing work was inspired by that of Giorgia Lupi. Check out the “Ted Talk, Giorgia Lupi: How we can find ourselves in data | TED Talk” for more information on this fascinating art project.
The charming paints piece on the back wall is the result of teacher Tanya Thibault’s student artists’ exploration of color mixing and play.
A mixed media chandelier in the BRES exhibit was inspired by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. This collaborative piece was created by Lacey Phelps’ third graders, Sarah Wade’s first graders and the seventh grade class of Kristin Smith. This colorful creation will capture every viewer’s attention and imagination.
The show continues through Saturday at BRAF, 1 Townsend Ave., Boothbay Harbor. The gallery is open Thursday thorough Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.