Art by Melrose students on display at JAC

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Teacher Erica Connolly, top left, with third grade Hannah Sandler, left to right, first grade Grennan Smith and third grade Isla Smith at the opening reception Saturday for the “Artistic Interpretations” exhibit at the Jamestown Arts Center. Kindergarten students Juliet Stokes and Beatrice Cardi, top right, search for their artwork on the walls of the Jamestown Arts Center.

Over the next six weeks, more than 1,000 works of art from one of the community’s youngest populations will be on display at the Jamestown Arts Center.

The exhibit, “Artistic Interpretations: Perspectives from Our Young Artists,” features works by elementary students at Melrose School. The work will remain on the walls of 18 Valley Street until March 5.

Ceramics, collages, paintings, self-portraits, prints and three large puppets by prominent 20th-century female artists that were assembled by fourth-grade students as part of a group project are among the works on display . Art teacher Erica Connolly said the exhibit is meant to replace the school-wide exhibit that hasn’t been shown since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was difficult not being able to present the students’ works,” she said.

Last year, the school participated in the art center‘s “Spacing Out(side)” outdoor exhibit when Connolly and his students created a metal sculpture with beads and handcrafted flaps on the based on a drawing by second-grade student Brooke Montoya.

For this year, curator Karen Conway invited the school to have a full gallery as an annual community exhibit.

“We’ve wanted to do an exhibit focused on children’s art for a long time,” Conway said. “We had this slot available. We had spoken briefly with Erica, but after she did such an amazing job with the sculpture last year for Spacing Out, we thought we should collaborate with this teacher. »

Conway said she was fascinated. Connolly had his students create their own RFPs for the artwork “Spacing Outside Together”, from which Montoya’s design was chosen. The rest of the proposals were displayed on the mural wall outside the arts center while Montoya’s design was displayed on the North Pond Bike Path.

“She really trusted them and let them do their thing, and really empowered them to be as creative as possible,” Conway said.

After asking the Melrose students to be the subjects of the exhibit, the women met with the art center’s exhibit committee to decide on the layout of the gallery. Connolly said the exhibit aims to show how students have creatively expressed themselves over the past few years. Most of the pieces on display were created during this school year, although a few are from last year. The “Spacing Outside Together” outdoor sculpture and a tile mural created by the students last spring are also on display.

“We weren’t able to showcase them, and we wanted to take this wonderful opportunity to show all the work we weren’t able to,” Connolly said.

Each class has a 2D work, such as a drawing or painting, and a ceramic piece, as well as a larger group project. A variety of different subjects, styles and media are covered throughout the pieces.

Some classes worked on a special project, such as third-grade students, who created watercolor stained-glass windows inspired by modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe. These pieces took about three weeks for the students to complete.

“They drew large flowers on their papers, then they used watercolor paints and black glue to look like stained glass,” Connolly said. “We hung them in the windows so that they would be illuminated by daylight.”

Second-grade students, meanwhile, created a “shiny goldfish” piece inspired by French painter Henri Matisse. This was a group project in which students enlarged Matisse’s painting “The Goldfish” into a 3D cardboard object and decorated it with neon paint that glows under a black light.

The giant puppets made by fourth-grade students as part of a group project were part of a self-portrait study Connolly taught those students. Three artists were selected for the project by Connolly: American impressionist Alma Thomas, Mexican surrealist Frida Kahlo and Japanese minimalist conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama. These artists were chosen, Connolly said, because she wanted to focus on women and they each had a different style that was covered in her curriculum, and the students also made miniature works of art in each. style.

“I thought it would be very exciting for them to work on a big collaborative project and see these artists come to life,” Connolly said. “It’s great to highlight collaborative work. It’s an exciting way for us to create. We like to work that way from time to time.

Fourth grader Elliott Glackin contributed to the Kahlo puppet by painting her head. He said the project was fun to work on because it was something different for him.

“I stepped out of my comfort zone,” Glackin said. “I usually only do markers and pencils, but this time I used paint.”

His classmate, Michael Smith, said his favorite part of making the puppet was learning about the artist’s life.

“She loved animals and she always drew animals with her self-portraits,” Smith said.

Adra Llewellyn, also in fourth grade, made a bird and banner for the Kahlo puppet with her group. She was also interested in the natural elements of the project, which she hopes those who see the puppet will also think about.

“I liked the colors and the patterns,” she said. “I hope they see the birds and know how much she loves animals.”

Both first graders and kindergartners created clay pieces. Kindergarten children provided clay peacocks, while first-grade classes made clay tree stump puppets. Kindergarten children also made mobiles, which hang from the ceiling and move with the air current inside the art center. In addition to their larger pieces, the older classes also contributed paintings and drawings.

The show is divided between the small and large galleries of the building. The Small Gallery features Student Open Studio Paintings, which are the paintings of students of all grade levels created during Open Studio time, a part of Connolly’s classes in which children choose their own style and method of creating works of art. Inside the main gallery, the work is divided by class level.

“It’s so important to share our work with the community and our families,” she said. “I hope they are very proud to be able to do this after three years of not even being able to hang up our job here. It really is an amazing opportunity for us.


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