Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Celebrating Student Artists

Artist: Lung Ung, CAPA, 11th Grade, Teacher: John Fanti

The exhibition currently mounted in The Art Gallery at City Hall is "A Plus Art - An Annual Celebration of Student Art." This exhibition is a selection of some of  the best art from students in Philadelphia’s public schools. Each year, The School District of Philadelphia organizes an exhibition of approximately 1,500 works of art at the School District Administration Building on North Broad St. Working in partnership with the District’s Office of Comprehensive Arts Education, we have chosen works that highlight our children’s artistic achievement in what we hope will be an annual exhibition in City Hall.

This exhibition is also a testament to the many dedicated art teachers in the School District, as well as the arts administrators who emphatically believe that a quality arts education is an important part of a child’s critical development.  Dr. Dennis Creedon, the Director of Comprehensive Arts Education, and Tessie Varthas, Content Specialist-Art Education were instrumental in the organization of this exhibition. Despite the many challenges our students must often overcome, it is our shared responsibility to nurture their talents and provide them with an opportunity to shine. For some students, the arts gives them a sense of unlimited possibilities. Each of the students in this exhibit will be honored with a Mayoral Certificate of Excellence.

When I was a young public school student in New York City MANY years ago, I exhibited in a similar show of the best work by public school students. I still remember the pride and optimism it gave me as a young artist.  I am honored to now be able to pass on that experience to this very talented group of students, and I wish them great success.
Group Project, Central High School

In mounting this show we had to think about the function of this relatively new gallery space. Some in the arts community have indicated a preference for a focus on only the work of professional artists. Others have pushed for a focus on community-based art - by students, seniors, and others that do not normally get the benefit of gallery exhibition of their work.  This debate has also swirled around the possibility of an art gallery exhibition space at the new expanded Convention Center - in the end a tentative decision was made there to have a tri-part focus: K-12 student art; art by the students at our many art schools, such as PAFA, UArts, Moore and Tyler; and work by professional artists. At the Art Gallery at City Hall we have decided to serve the role the arts play in our civic life, and the many forms that can take. We will sometimes highlight student art and hope this show can become an annual event. We will tie into such citywide festivals as Design Philadelphia (our next show!) and the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts next year, and we will sometimes serve as an extension space for the Art in City Hall exhibition program. We will be eclectic, we will always seek partnerships in our exhibitions, and always strive for the highest quality. I believe providing a showcase for the work of the best of our young student artists is a perfect use for this new gallery space. I also had the pleasure of welcoming students on the first day of class at CAPA, our School District specialized arts high school - and many CAPA students are represented in this show.

I am remiss in not having written about this show earlier, so I hope that all my Philadelphia readers that may not have seen the show yet will come see it before it ends in a few days.

Here are the details:

The Art Gallery At City Hall
"A-Plus Art" 
August 9 - October 1
A selection from the 2009-2010 School District exhibition.
Room 116, East Portal Market St. Entrance.
10 am - 4 pm weekdays

1 comment:

  1. It's important to plant seeds for our future. If we had taken art education seriously in generations past, we perhaps wouldn't be in the position to constantly defend the arts today. Instead we're left with the false choices of which jobs are more or less important to save.

    At the same time, we do need to do more to educate people about professional art, and the arts overall.

    It's interesting to note some of the verbs artists, educators and viewers have used over the years in describing the art(istic) experience. Today, we frown upon the usage of the word "like" for many apparent but also philosophical reasons; but other words such as "respond" or "resonate" are still applied in efforts to understand a work of art. In the 90s with the birth of the internet I assume, the word "interact" crept into the classroom and cafe dialogue - how forms interact with one another, for example. Today, I can't help it but notice that art has become more "integrated" in our daily life and in our environment, and artists are finding ways to "connect" with community. These are my random thoughts for the day, but my overall sentiment is that one should not feel ashamed of supporting art that's not created by professionals or art that's used to raise social awareness, or transform communities. Art's evolution is evident in the language we use to describe it, and it's time we acknowledge art's full potential. It's okay to support children's art; in fact, it's quite necessary.

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