The delightful exhibit currently on display at the Anna Bier Gallery showcases the creative work of the 16 local fourth through 12th graders who attended Art Week at St. Clair Memorial Hall July 11-15. The creations on display are not necessarily the finished works of art one would normally encounter in a gallery exhibition, but instead are works in progress for students trying new materials and new ideas—but the joy and creativity communicated to the viewer is not diminished by this reality.
Art Week classes were planned with an “Under the Sea” theme, and led by Anna Bier Gallery Director CeCelia Rice and Nichole Capasso, who with her father, Alan, owns a local graphic design studio and fine arts gallery. Mississinwa Valley student Lily Severance and Damien Gates, a Greenville High School senior, assisted with instruction of the other participants, all of whom collaborated on a colorful and engaging “Trash Fish” collage using yarn, paint, toilet paper rolls, plastic bottles, and more to graphically demonstrate the amount of trash cluttering our oceans.
“Japanese Spider Crab,” a menacing, yet quite cute creature sculpted from plaster gauze, wire, and newspaper totally dominates one corner of the Gallery, attracting attention with its size and fragile stability. Graceful “Koi Fish” float above seaweed and moss in another striking sculpture, while “Goddess of the Sea,” a massive sea cave housing a seductive mermaid, invites a closer look
Several octopuses (octopi?) are among the striking sculptures on display, some decorated with shells and sparkling gems as well as plant life from the sea. One student explained that she had difficulty getting the tentacles of her eight-armed creature to stay put, and that her original vision to render the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid didn’t work out, but she was happy with her finished work.
Projects taken on by junior high students included sculpting with air-dry clay to create sand castles of various sizes and shapes, some of which were decorated with octopuses as well as starfish and real seashells. Middle school students used Elmer’s Glue to draw a design on fabric which was then dyed before the glue was washed out to create delicately colored batiks that decorate one wall of the Gallery.
A wide variety of subjects are found in acrylic paintings also created by this age group, including several more fetching octopuses and another mermaid, as well as an angler fish and a giant squid. Sea, sand, and sky are fitting features of many of these works, including one showing a dolphin gracefully leaping out of the blue sea.
Watercolor paintings created by the youngsters include a depiction of fish of ever-increasing size floating above a treasure chest on the bottom of the sea. A delightfully different take on the theme has a wide-jawed fish ingesting a charming little palm tree, while another student created a captivating jellyfish that seems to be moving across the page. Other imaginative images include a rendering of tentacles which, while obviously stationary on the page, show movement that may be threatening the ship that sits behind them.
A collage that includes cutout images of stately chickens in the sea and on the sand plus eggs in a nest beside real seashells is displayed next to a piece centering on a fabric sea turtle flanked by colorful fish at the bottom of a torn tissuepaper blue sea. Another seascape created with paper cutouts has a sweet jellyfish with ribbon tentacles floating on a backdrop created in shades of green.
These are but a few of the delights to be enjoyed during the entire month of August at the Anna Bier Gallery where you, too, can explore the imaginative work of youngsters expressing their own unique artistic voices. The Anna Bier Gallery is open from 12 noon till 2 p.m. every Sunday through August or by appointment; for more information, contact Gallery Director CeCelia Rice at [email protected] or by calling 937-564-7568. More art adventures for youngsters are planned at the Gallery during school vacations throughout the next year; more information will be released as plans are finalized.