CHS artists gain real-world experience in 1978 show

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — For the 11th year in a row, high school students’ artwork will be on display at the 1978 Maplewood Arts Center during the “Fresh 11.0” exhibit, an annual show featuring the work of area high school students. Artists featured in the show are from Columbia High School, Montclair High School, Arts High School and Central High School in Newark, and Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights. Curated by and for the students, the show features high-level art students who have been in Advanced Placement classes. Onnie Strother, a member of the gallery’s board of trustees and its education chairman, helped the students put the show together. It will be on display at the gallery from Dec. 8 through Jan. 12.

“A lot of it is a preview of what they’ll submit for a portfolio in college,” Strother said in an interview with the News-Record on Nov. 30. “Many of them will go on to art school.”

Strother, who previously taught at Columbia and Central high schools, said that the work featured in the gallery includes paintings, sculptures and pencil drawings. Many pieces were created by students for their art classes, but students could also choose pieces they made on their own.

“The exhibit is curated by 1978, but the kids are hanging and setting it up,” Strother said. “The students are actually curating the show.”

Mary Arevalo is a Columbia senior who has three pieces in the show: two still lifes from class and one watercolor portrait of Aretha Franklin.

“We had a lot more freedom with that one,” Arevalo said of the portrait in an interview with the News-Record on Dec. 1. “We just had to pick any picture of her, and I wanted to try watercolors because I didn’t have a lot of experience with them. I wanted to try it.”

Arevalo said she has never been part of a gallery show and is now learning the ropes at 1978 Maplewood Arts Center.

“We’ve been helping to hang everything up,” she said. “It’s interesting because you have to make sure you don’t damage anything, especially if it isn’t yours. It’s good to know because I want to go into industrial design, so it’s definitely good experience.”

Curtis Grayson, a Columbia studio art teacher, said the show is a chance for students who plan to attend art school after graduation to gain gallery experience for their own education and for their resumes.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to learn how to structure a show,” Grayson said in an interview with the News-Record on Dec. 3. “From start to finish, they’re pulling it together.”

Grayson said the students featured in the show are taking the highest level art classes; most have been in art classes for years. Though not all participating artists plan to attend art school, he said the gallery experience is valuable nonetheless.

“They all have very high-level skill sets,” Grayson said. “There are sculptures, paintings and pencil drawings. It’s a wide variety of work, and they’re able to use some of what they’ve done in the studio.”

William Roth, a Columbia senior who is hoping to be accepted to a dual Rhode Island School of Design-Brown University art program, has several still lifes from class in the show. He said he picked the pieces he was proudest of to include in the show.

“There’s a little variety in the show, but a lot of other people also have still-lifes so I think that will be a good mix,” Roth said in an interview with the News-Record on Dec. 4.

While Ben Harteveld, another Columbia senior, wants to attend Syracuse University to study architecture after he finishes high school, he said he’ll continue to make art as a hobby.

“It’s definitely still been educational, because learning how to hang is important for anybody,” Harteveld said in an interview with the News-Record on Dec. 4. “We’re doing it all ourselves and deciding where everything is going to go has been a lot of fun.”

In addition to his still lifes, Harteveld also has a self-portrait in the show in colored pencil, paint and crayon.

Columbia senior Maya Serrandiz wants to study art at either Syracuse or Boston University next year, and has several colored pencil pieces in the show.

“It’s been a cool opportunity to be a part of,” she said in an interview with the News-Record on Dec. 4. “Seeing everyone else’s work in the complete show and how it all comes together has been a lot of fun.”

Photos Courtesy of Curtis Grayson