MAPLEWOOD, NJ — “Fresh 12” has been hanging in the 1978 Maplewood Arts Center since Dec. 15, showing off the work of AP art students from around the county. On display at the gallery until Jan. 18, artists from Columbia High School, Arts High School in Newark, Central High School in Newark, West Essex High School, Governor Livingston High School and Montclair High School curated and hung the show themselves, getting the chance to experience a gallery show.
“It’s all student curated and hung,” CHS AP art teacher Curtis Grayson said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Jan. 9. “The students learn how to present their work and get it ready for exhibiting.”
AP art is taught at the college level, so while not all students in the course will be going on to art school, many will, and the show gives them a glimpse of what the next level will be like. And because there are six schools featured in the show, students are able to see art they don’t get to see on a daily basis.
“It gives them motivation to see other students and see what the competition is out there,” Grayson said. “They’re also seeing the caliber of work from other schools.”
Sarah Wessel, a CHS junior who has work in the show, said this is the first gallery show of which she’s been a part. Wessel still has another year of high school left, and she’s planning on taking more art classes in the future.
“We get to see what’s going on and how different other schools are,” she said in a Jan. 9 phone interview. “And we’re talking to other people about it.”
The CHS students all enjoyed seeing art from the other schools over the time the show has been hanging, and junior Jaya Kohol agreed with Wessel in a phone interview on Jan. 9.
“It was interesting to see different work and what the comparison is like at other schools,” she said. “Sitting down and working on a project is intense, and this was different. It was nice to work with others. We don’t get to work collaboratively that often.”
Sophie Gigante, another CHS junior, agreed.
“The more the merrier,” she said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Jan. 9. “Not many people get that chance, so when you get to do that, it is exciting.”
Senior Imogene Pranger has gallery experience from her time in last year’s Art 4 class, but this show is a little bit different. In the other class’ show, the students weren’t as involved in choosing the work and hanging it.
“This year we got to curate,” Pranger said. “We were the ones sending it off to the gallery. We looked at how many portraits and still lifes we had. You’re normally working on your own, so it was nice to work with peers and put together a body of work.”
The AP students are checking out the competition when they’re looking at the work from the other schools, but they also are inspired by the other artists.
“I feel honored to have other people’s work with mine,” CHS senior Adin Duncan said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Jan. 9. “There’s a lot of collaboration, and so many people from other schools are doing things that I wish I could do.”
Because all of the students featured in the show are from the same area, CHS senior Desiree Hume said it felt more personal. She’s been featured in the New Jersey Teen Arts Festival, a statewide art show, in the past.
“It felt more personal, with people I know coming to see it,” Hume said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Jan. 9. “Having all these people look at my work inspired me to start trying different things and using different materials.”
Ariana Machado said she was excited to have the experience of participating in a gallery show.
“I’m glad I had it,” the CHS senior said in a phone interview with the News-Record on Jan. 9. “We were doing a lot of the work, like picking the pieces and hanging them. It makes you feel really proud when you see it in there, especially with all the different schools.”
Photos Courtesy of Curtis Grayson