A long local tradition of showcasing student art continues with the 31st annual Middle Schools Awesome Art Show, now on display in the Kiwanis Gallery in the Red Deer Public Library downtown branch.
Organized by the Red Deer Arts Council, the exhibit runs through to May 23rd.
The exhibit features students from Eastview, Central, Gateway and Glendale Middle Schools.
Diana Anderson of the Red Deer Arts Council said it’s always a joy to see what local students (in this case, those in Grades 6 to 9) bring forward year after year.
“These kids are talented,” explains Anderson during a recent chat at the Gallery. “I think they really did choose some of the strongest pieces for us.”
There also has been an extensive range in the modes of expression. “We have pencil, painting, ‘found’ art, all sorts of funky stuff – paper mache, clay, string art.”
The exhibit typically serves as a reflection of trends but also of what’s providing inspiration to the individual students these days as well.
“You can really see some of their surroundings reflected in the work – what they’re seeing and what they are doing.
“What will catch their eye this year? This annual exhibit delights its audience with a variety of works expressing these young students’ talents as they experiment with different subject matter and media.”
Of course, there is limited space in the gallery – so that makes it all the more challenging in selecting the pieces that ultimately make it into the exhibit.
“The teachers have to be really judicious in what they bring down and give us to hang.”
But time after time, the diversity represented in the exhibit is striking. “It’s very, very creative.
“Every installation has its own headaches and joys,” she added with a laugh. “I liken it to Christmas because I don’t know what I’m going to get. It’s like unwrapping a Christmas gift. I love that part.”
Anderson hopes that when folks visit the exhibit, they will really see how outstanding the accomplishments of the students are. “It’s superb.”
The exhibit is also a big step for the students, as for many, this marks the first time some of their art will be featured in a very public setting. “It’s brave of them. It’s like putting your heart and soul on a wall – it’s that way for any artist.”
In the spring of 2010, three organizations, the Red Deer and District Allied Arts Council, Cultural Charter Partners of Red Deer and District and the Cultural Development Association of Red Deer (Culture Link) merged to form the Red Deer Arts Council.
According to their web site, “The purpose of all three groups was to bring arts and culture to the fore in our community.
“Their objective has been to develop the artists, the arts and culture delivery system, arts and culture engagement, and audience development. The new organization, Red Deer Arts Council, will create a vibrant community for literary, performing and visual artists and cultural organizations.”
Anderson said she always find the arts students that come through usually go from middle school through to high school with their art – they’re following that.
“And when I have done the high school show and college shows, I would notice a lot of those high school names in the arts program at the college,” she said, adding it’s always been fascinating to see the progression of the students and their creative growth over time.
Meanwhile, up next for the Red Deer Arts Council is ‘Hang-ups and Insights: The 8th Annual IB and AP Art Show with Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School and Hunting Hills High School from May 25th to June 18th.
This exhibit features the artwork of the 2016 graduating students of the advanced placement and the international baccalaureate art programs. Every year there are new things to see and experience through this show.
From installation art to ceramics to prints and drawings and beyond, this exhibit showcases the young people who will be the next generation of talented artists.
First Friday Red Deer Opening for ‘Hang-ups and Insights’ runs June 3rd from 6 to 8 p.m. with students and instructors.
Other future exhibit highlights to come include Highways of Alberta: Paintings by Greg Pyra from June 20th to Aug. 21st and ‘Acrylic Paintings by Susan Delaney’ from Aug. 23rd to Oct. 16th.
For more information, visit www.reddeerartscouncil.wordpress.com.