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Youth Art Month lets students unleash their creativity
“Muse,” an acrylic by Gainesville High School 11th-grader John Jennings.
Youth Art Month
Featuring artwork by Gainesville and Hall county middle and high school students
When: Through April 3
Where: Quinlan Visual Arts center, 514 Green St., Gainesville
How much: Free

Kids, by their nature, are a pretty creative bunch.

When you add the element of competition, some of them respond by kicking that creativity up a notch. The result of that extra energy can be seen adorning the walls of the Quinlan Visual Arts Center through the end of this month.

The current exhibit celebrates Youth Art Month, a collaboration between Gainesville and Hall County schools, the Kiwanis Club and the Quinlan to invite any middle or high school student to submit a piece for the 2010 Kiwanis Visual Arts Showcase. And as an added bonus, sophomores, juniors and seniors who win one of three “best of show” awards get some prize money to help pay for college, too.

The pieces submitted include every medium you can think of, including some inventive ones — how about “ductagomi,” layers of colored duct tape in a starburst pattern to create the piece “The Rainbow Flower,” made by Lakeview Academy sixth-grader Matthew Sartoris.

A variety of photography shows the care and thought students put into the pieces, including “Verloop,” an image of a curving road against a silvery sky that is reminiscent of a chrome print, and two photographs that play with black and white in watery, misty scenes, all by West Hall senior Stede Granger. “Verloop,” also won first prize in the 12th-grade category and was named second “best in show.”

There’s also a Jackson Pollock-inspired piece, “Wild Berry Pop Tart” by Lakeview senior Alisha Moss, that incorporates raspberry and blueberry-hued paints on an acrylic canvas; East Hall sophomore Giovanni Funes’ “Untitled,” an acrylic mix of rust and lime green hues that evoke an earthly yet dreamy scene; and the gritty “Rancid” by David Ratterson, a senior at Gainesville High School, that uses spray paint in blue and brown to create an abstract urban street scene.

And visitors can’t ignore the corner of sixth-grade art, dominated by pieces that jump off the wall in a third dimension. Along with Matthew’s duct tape creation, there is also “$$” by Anna Lee Skinner, a Lakeview student who created a piece focusing on money, complete with a credit card, tip jar, receipts and keyboard parts. And “Rapa Nui,” a sculpture by Lakeview sixth-grader Felix Fuessinger, shows tropical trees surrounding a tiki head.

Art teacher Dusti Joyner from C.W. Davis Middle School said most of her entries were from students in her art club. And while she offered a little guidance to some of the students, all the pieces are representative of the students’ own creative thought processes.
Student Lexi Gerdts, for example, made a sculpture out of a pineapple that focuses on light and reflection. Another student, Lauren Hill, created koi fish out of clay.

“She says that she likes to do random ideas, and that was one of them,” Joyner said.

Paula Lindner, assistant director at the Quinlan, oversaw the hanging of the pieces and said it was easy to feel the youthful vibe as she selected what would hang where.

“I did it so I could capture that essence of youth,” she said of putting the pieces on the wall, like a jigsaw puzzle. “And we have so much local talent that it wasn’t hard to do.”

The pieces were judged by Delores Diaz, an art professor at Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University; Julie Hogan, an art teacher at Lumpkin County High School; and Karl Michel, a professor of art education at Piedmont College.
The awards ceremony took place last week, with the top four artists from each grade receiving ribbons. The three scholarship winners and their teachers will be recognized at the Kiwanis Awards Luncheon on May 4.

Plus, the first-place students from each grade, and an honorable mention contestant, will be submitted to the state competition. At this level, “best of show” winners are eligible for $7,500 in scholarships.

Joe Emery, who teaches art at Gainesville High School, said the overall quality of the artwork in the exhibit reflects the support the city and county schools have for art education.

“It seems that every year the student artwork improves,” he said. “I think that it is safe to say that all the art educators represented at this exhibit are very proud of their students. I feel that every student who was asked by their art teacher to participate in the exhibit is a winner.”

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