By Carrie Breitbach
Education Director, Rockford Art Museum
This year at Rockford Art Museum (RAM), I was very excited about putting up two big shows—the 69th Young Artist Show: High School Division followed by the Youth Division. Selecting jurors for the high school division was first on the docket. We were fortunate enough to have Drea Howenstein from the Art Institute of Chicago and Andrew Liccardo from Northern Illinois University select the pieces for this year’s show.
As they moved through the 850 pieces of work, they continually made comments about the talent they saw. Both had juried other high school shows before, and both agreed this was the best group of work they had seen. Indeed it was.
However, I did not envy them for having to pick only a select number of pieces. They scrutinized over the pieces before picking the final works. Their main objective for the exhibit was to show variety and diversity. The process was long, but certainly worth it. The end result was 137 pieces of work that best exemplified our students.
I discovered two major differences between these exhibits that really make each one stand out and unique. Obviously, there is an age gap that separates certain techniques and experiences that can only come with age. While the kids in the youth division display copious amounts of imagination and creativity, the high school students’ artwork shows the start of artistic conceptual thinking. We start to see the meaning behind the work, the process and the ideas. Experiences, memories, relationships, beliefs all start to come into the work. It’s exciting.
The back-to-back exhibits show the gradual change in the minds of the students. There are so many facets of each division to appreciate. The vibrant colors, animals, and family images are ever present in the youth division. The simple, happy events that happen in a child’s life are put on paper, whereas in the high school division, you start to see how life is changing. The struggle, the joys and the pressures of daily life are processed, and these students start using their art to express their own voices.
I’ve really enjoyed these last couple of months and the work that we have done for the two divisions of the Young Artist Show. I am extremely proud of the talent and love for the arts that students in the Rockford region have. Please support our youth and continue to encourage their visions, talent and expressions through art.
The 69th Young Artist Show: Youth Division is on view just a few more days—through Sunday, May 9 (Mother’s Day). And all mothers receive free admission at RAM on Mother’s Day.
Contact Rockford Art Museum Education Director Carrie Breitbach at email@example.com.
From the May 5-11, 2010 issue