Beekmantown art teacher June Levenson takes a photo of Best in Show artist Courtney Lester and her piece “The Criminal.”
PLATTSBURGH — More than 100 works of art from some of the area’s best young artists are on display at the North Country Cultural Center for the Art.
On Friday, March 15, the High and Middle School Exhibition opened at the NCCCA.
The show runs through April 13.
Thirteen local schools representing students who are 10-18 years old from throughout the region have work on display, with each school submitting up to 10 pieces.
There is a wide range of three-dimensional art at the show—a dress made from Vogue magazine pages, a ceramic cheese burger, a gigantic pair of shades.
Two-dimensional art is also represented in paintings of nature, people and the abstract.
At the opening, several awards were given out in several categories like ceramics, drawing and sculpture.
The Best of Show award went to Beekmantown High School student Courtney Lester for her piece called “The Criminal.”
The image was created using paint, ink and colored pencil and there is a mixture of her own poetry and song lyrics from the band “My Chemical Romance.”
The words have meaning for Lester, as does the blood type printed on the autotransfusion bag—it’s her own.
“It’s open for interpretation,” Lester said. “If anyone gets anything out of it, it’s worth it.”
In the near future, Lester will also be having a show with both of her sisters at ROTA.
It will be the third show she has been a part of.
On the surface, the exhibition gives young art students the chance to have their work seen and to possibly sell it, but beneath that there is a sense of encouragement and support.
“It’s a positive affirmation,” said Beekmantown High School art teacher June Levenson. “I think everybody wants to be acknowledged in what they do. It gives them confidence. Just to have your work shown is an honor.”
Levenson teaches grades 9-12 in studio art, drawing and painting, and advanced drawing and painting.
She has been teaching for 20 years, and said her favorite thing about her job is watching her students develop their skills throughout the years.
Rebecca Conklin, who teaches high school art at AuSable Valley, said that growth is inspiring to witness.
“The students are inspiring,” Conklin said. “They inspire me and I hope I inspire them as well. There’s no better career.”
Conklin has been teaching for 12 years and said quite a few of her students have moved on to continue making art as adults.
Much like Levenson, Conklin teaches her students a variety of mediums and techniques, like pottery, drawing, painting and sculpture
It is important, she said, to support creativity, as it can foster growth in other areas.
“When students have experiences with art and music, they do well in other subjects” Conklin said. “I’m glad there are opportunities for them to show their work.”
One of Conklin’s students, Emily Maicus, said she has benefitted from trying different types of art.
Even though sculpture is her favorite technique, the piece she has on display at the exhibition is two-dimensional.
It’s a woman’s face, shaped entirely using words, called “Prison of Sadness.”
“I loved the concept of doing an emotional picture,” Maicus said. “I think that, because it’s so close up, it accentuates the features.”
The title “Prison of Sadness” is part of the quote that is repeated several times in the image.
The words are long and thin as they trace the woman’s jawline, they are condensed to form bold lips and eyes, and they flutter playfully to represent her hair.
“It was something I never did before,” Maicus said. “I concentrated on it for a long time, and it led me deeper into the quote.”
Shawna Armstrong, gallery and graphics coordinator for the NCCCA, said she hopes this event will serve as a good stepping stone for students who wish to pursue art after high school.
“I’m really inpressed by the variety of work,” Armstrong said. “High schoolers aren’t just drawing any more, they’re doing ceramics, sculpture, mixed media and 2-D work. They’re really pushing the boundaries of the high school classroom.”