At Helen Day, Student Artists Shine

Updated: Mar 2

This month the Helen Day Art Center in Stowe presents the 37th Annual Student Art Show. The walls, packed student exploration of color, form, materials and composition, showcase a rich collection of work from Stowe Elementary, Middle and High School as well as Crossett Brook Middle School, Harwood Union High School, and the Mountain River School.

A densely packed exhibition of works that beautifully expresses the developmental pathways of art learning, the show is organized by school and by grade. There is something really unusual and more than a little bit exciting to experience first graders jostling with high school seniors for the viewers attention in a formal gallery space.

The Student Art Show is a waterfall, a cascade of work that sometimes overwhelms with a uniformity of production in the younger grades (it is obvious where exercises were completed by an entire classroom). One has to work a little harder to discover nuance and something expressive in an specific piece, and it is worth the effort: the show is exuberant and generous, and the towering effect of color-clad walls is palpable. One of the most unusual and playful collections was inspired by the visit of EMMA, the traveling studio on wheels that provides instruction in "making." For this show students elected to install work on scratch board that was complemented by electrical circuitry and LED lighting.

It is in the work of older grades where the viewer is rewarded by the voice, choice-making and subject matter of emerging artists. It was especially exciting to see works on the walls complemented by artists statements -- about what moves them, the techniques and materials they explored, and where they want to take their talents in the future.

Included in the show are the portfolios of design students at Stowe High School. These student-curated dossiers are a really interesting insight into the thought processes of emerging artists. For the ones who provide obvious care, their reflection of what worked and didn't work for them across particular assignments demonstrates evolving levels of maturity and dedication to their craft.

The range of materials and explorations by students is a joy to wander through -- from transformed books by Harwood Union students to digital collages; process explorations of cartoon drawings later realized as wire sculptures. A particularly interesting piece was a study in textures by Stowe student Emily Croes titled "Different and Same" -- an assemblage composition using materials as diverse as Q-tips and pennies to produce a collage of 20 self-portraits.

Congratulations Helen Day for and enduring commitment to student art and the process of community, peer and professional feedback -- exciting and so important to the lives of our emerging artists.

The exhibition is on view through May 26, 2018 and the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10AM to 5PM.


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