The Chaffee Art Center’s annual Student Exhibit and Amateur Photo Contest opened April 23 featuring the work of young artists from local schools and home schools, plus photo contest entries and artist members’ work on display and for sale.

The theme “Expressions of Me” turned out a variety of interpretations from the students — a sunset sky burning hot pink, tempered with birch trees; a collection of animals at a lake; a faceless girl, her hair an exclamation point of blue flames. Some were already sold on opening night.

The student entries in the downstairs galleries came from art classes around the Rutland area including Karen Kysar’s at Stafford Tech, Sally Timmons at Rutland Middle School, Rutland High School 2-D art teacher Madeline Pritchard and RHS pottery teacher Stefanie DeSimone, as well as home school parent Rebekah Brostek and others. Last week some of their students talked about the work they submitted.

“I’m a home school parent with one student (participating),” Brostek said by email. That student, Anya, 11, said, “I have one piece in the show. It’s a self-portrait done with colored pencil. During the past year I’ve wanted to branch out with the art supplies I use and apply more realism to my style. I really like how the piece came out, especially the blending, which is one of my favorite parts of using colored pencils.”

Students from Rutland High School 2-D art teacher Madeline Prtichard’s class, Hannah Hebert, Aroura Campbell and Sarah Bloch, sent emails, too. Hebert said, “My painting is called ‘The Power of Time’ and it is supposed to show how time can control people and what they can and can’t do.” Campbell said, “My art piece represents my state of feeling at the time.” And Bloch said, “My piece is titled ‘Interworkings.’ I was brainstorming ideas of what I could do for this prompt with my mom and suddenly the words “fire hair flower face” flew out of my mouth, and I went with it.”

Stafford digital arts teacher Karen Kysar has participated with her students for several years in the student show. Her class covers digital illustration, digital photography, graphic design, computer animation and game and Web design. Twelve of her 21 students will participate this year, including Emelia McCalla, whose piece is a composite of two photographs titled “Spark of Creation.”

When asked what inspired her to create it, McCalla said by email, “I am a lifelong atheist, but I’ve always been fascinated by religious teachings and why people believe what they do. Recently, I’ve been following the young Earth creationist movement. I’ve found that some members of that community find it comforting to think of an all-powerful being in control of everything. When making ‘Spark of Creation,’ I worked to show my perspective on that idea through the darkness surrounding the hand, and the uneasy feeling created by the piece’s composition.”

“Another student put in a series of product, he’s really interested in product and commercial photography,” Kysar said. “There’s a couple macro pictures, some great digital illustrations, two portraits, (all) done digitally.”

With about 40% of her class fully remote, “We use Google Meet,” Kysar said, “and we have critiques where each person presents their work, and we talk about it, just like we would in person.”

“The show is such a wonderful experience,” Kysar added, “because it’s kids K through 12 and they all come together and see each other’s work. (When) the little kids look at the older kids’ work … you can see it in their eyes, ‘I can do that someday.’ It’s a great opportunity for the entire community.”


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