More than 700 artworks by students in Howard tell the stories of storytelling

Exhibit gives youngsters chance to show work in professional arena

March 29, 2001|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

The artists could be forgiven if they got a little temperamental while searching for their work. After all, bedtime was quickly approaching for many of them.

Proud parents and even prouder students recently flooded the opening reception for "Telling Images: Stories in Art," an exhibit of artwork by Howard County students. The show, at Howard County Center for the Arts, has more than 700 pieces made by students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

"I think it's important to have this in a museum/gallery setting so the kids can see that what they do is sophisticated," said Barry Shauck, Howard County public schools instructional facilitator for the visual arts. "It's great for the students."

The show is part of an annual Youth Art Month exhibition. Art teachers at area public schools were invited to submit 15 to 20 pieces of work by students, and those creations were juried by a committee of art teachers. The selected works range from installation art to diaries and focus on the theme of storytelling.

Shauck said the exhibit in Columbia is tied to a show of the same title at the Art Institute of Chicago, which uses six masterpieces, with computer games and interactive displays, to tell stories from around the world. Members of the Art Institute Museum Education staff traveled to Howard County and met with teachers, Shauck said, to discuss the art institute's exhibit.

Students were invited to craft their ideas on telling stories, using visual art. "It's interesting to see the way the students develop as artists," Shauck said. "In the elementary grades, they stick with the usual: beginning, middle and end.

"At the middle school level, the students really enjoy that having to do with illusions and special effects," Shauck continued. "At the high school level, they become more metaphorical."

During the exhibit's opening March 22, hundreds of students, parents and teachers roamed the show, stopping to pause and reflect over the multicolored paintings, sculptures and photos. Cries of "That's mine," and "I did that" rang throughout the gallery.

Kerry Powell proudly snapped pictures while his fiancee, Priscilla Groomes, shot video of the exhibit and their daughter, 9-year-old Kyonna Groomes-Powell. "We came to check out her art and show her that we support her," Powell said as his fourth-grader from Phelps Luck Elementary School smiled shyly.

Eight-year-old Billy Rothstein and his parents, Bill and Laurie, chatted with his 5-year-old brother Cody's art teacher, Rob Langevin. Billy, a third-grader at Ilchester Elementary School, is a seasoned artist with three shows under his belt.

"It's fun to do," he said, after strolling with his parents and little brother to admire his installation piece, the story of a monkey, parrot and deer playing a game of cards. "I'm proud."

Langevin, an art teacher at Ilchester, said shows such as the one at the art center give students "the kind of memories you always remember as an adult."

"It takes the little world of art in the classroom and brings it out to the community," Langevin said. "It's going to be viewed by so many people in the community."

Coleen West, executive director of Howard County Arts Council, said the annual student show is one of the best-attended events at the center. "The kids are so excited, and you hear them yelling `Here's my piece. Here's my piece,'" she said as she stood by the door logging in visitors with the press of a clicker. "It's just such a big deal for them to be in a professional space."

For one student, it's probably a foreshadowing of the future. Val Lucas, a 17-year-old senior at Mount Hebron High School, is one of the show's featured artists and the recent winner of the art guild's student scholarship. One of her pieces, an oil painting of Buddha painted over a self-portrait, was selected as the featured image on postcards announcing the show.

Lucassaid she enjoyed the feedback that being in a show allowed her. "It's interesting because I get to hear what people think about my work," Lucas said.

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