By Janelle Faignant
“Art is not what you see but what you make others see,” French artist Edgar Degas said, and every year, the Rutland-area student community gives us the chance to see ideas through their lens, in the Chaffee Art Center’s Annual Student Art Exhibit.
Chaffee Executive Director Margaret Creed Barros puts the word out each year to local schools and homeschooled students through summer camps, word of mouth, and the teachers themselves.
The exhibit turns out hundreds of pieces of work, from kindergartners to high-school seniors. Last Friday a young homeschooled student, about 6 years old, was among the first to drop off hers for the exhibit.
Barros’s own daughters, now 31 and 28, had pieces in the exhibit when they were in school, and Barros estimates it’s been going on for at least 15 years. This year the theme is “Our Global Community.”
Emily Peters is an 18-year-old senior at Rutland High School, and a student of teacher Fred Lower’s AP art class. She’s had pieces in the exhibit for the past three years, and says she wasn’t aware of the theme before she made her piece, but her focus on mothers and daughters nevertheless fit the theme of community.
“I began with drawing a picture of a mother and child looking at each other, sort of like a mirror image, and turned it into a cubist painting,” Peters said, explaining, “Cubism is an abstract version of a picture or an image.”
Her colorful painting looks somewhat like a stained-glass window, (“a lot of cubist paintings are like that,” Peters says) with two similar silhouettes facing each other, a heart between them.
“It was for my AP art concentration,” Peters said, “and my concentration is a composition of 12 pieces on mother and child.”
“The work is all about cubism and ideas about cubism and where (the students) took it,” Lower said. “There’s some pretty original pieces.”
A group of students from the Stafford Technical Digital Arts program helped to hang the exhibit, which they do every year since Barros implemented the idea when she joined the organization four years ago, saying, “They’re getting the opportunity and can have on their résumé that they have hung an exhibit in an art gallery.”
“Often, people will come back to visit the museum to see a different exhibit after seeing the student art exhibit,” Barros said. “So I like the way it creates a comfort zone for a large population of people who live here in Rutland county to come in and visit an art gallery.”
With close to 200 students participating in the exhibit, Barros says they expect to see anywhere from 300 to 400 people in the gallery on opening night alone.
“There will probably be some pieces that really share the theme, and some that you can interpret how it falls into it,” Barros said, adding, “Artists can stretch an interpretation.”
The Chaffee Art Center’s 2017 Annual Student Art Exhibit
April 7 to May 19
Chaffee Art Center
16 South Main St., Rutland