By Shanna Nichols, nicholss@grinnell.edu

A visitor examines the Grinnell High School and Middle School Arts Exhibition. Photo by Gregory Brookins-Hinton.

On Thursday, March 7th, the Grinnell Arts Gallery unveiled the Grinnell High School and Middle School Art Exhibition. The Grinnell Area Arts Council (GAAC), now in its third year of hosting the show, has expanded their collection to include more pieces than in the past. This year included not only two- and three-dimensional pieces, but jewelry and ceramics as well.

The main gallery will feature works by Deb Yellick-Manly’s and Janet Ahrens’ students at the high school, pieces selected to emphasize a diversity of mediums and techniques.

“We wanted a balance between forms, the three-dimensional and two-dimensional forms,” Ahrens said. “They are from any of the high school art classes and we have a wide range of classes: from drawing and painting to sculpture and ceramics to a general beginning foundations.”

11th grader Addie Bidwell’s “Memories” illustrates the various aspects of teenage life and is depicted with vibrant and deep hues of colored pencil. This and other pieces take ordinary everyday objects, like a watch, notes on a staff and a cross, to demonstrate how small things can come to be the centerpiece of large life memories.

Another piece, “Spark of Knowledge” by 12th grade student Hannah Hartz, uses chalk, pastel and ink to illuminate a radiant light bulb amidst a very dark background. Within the light bulb is a finely drawn tree, alluding to the biblical ‘tree of knowledge.’
The three-dimensional pieces within the main space include ceramics and jewelry work, as well as a  large papier-mâché prom queen.

Molly Rideout ’10, GAAC’s Arts and Residency Director, expressed excitement about the ceramics and jewelry pieces.

“The ceramics as well as the jewelry class are only offered every other year, so this is my first time seeing these, so I’m excited to see the new and cool things they are doing with jewelry,” Rideout said. “There [is] some really innovative work.”

Ahrens saw Thursday evening’s opening reception as an opportunity for students’ parents to see projects their kids have been working on in school all year.

“At the opening, we’ll be here to answers questions and to celebrate everyone’s good work,” Ahrens said. “A lot of time parents don’t know what their kids have made or they may have only seen it in progress, so this is an opportunity to be with the kids and the finished product.”

Work from the middle school students is featured in the auxiliary north wing of the gallery. This work is themed according to grade level. Students from grades 6 and 8 worked on a graffiti theme, while students from grades 5 and 7 based their work according to a superhero theme. Viewers will find it exciting to see Munch’s “The Scream” transformed into Naruto and a version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” featuring Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog. These pieces illustrate the vast imaginative capacity of students, from beginners to advanced level students.

The show will run March 7-29 and include one gold award, one silver award and four honorable mentions from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Regular gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 2:30-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.