Gallery spotlights youth artMarch 10, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Cheryl Merkel had never seen the beautiful book.
It lay open in a glass cabinet, turned to a page with butterflies on wires sprouting into the air. Words on the page spelled out a poem about growing up.
Merkel’s daughter, Kyla Dickens, created the piece of art in class at Northeast Dubois High School. But the freshman hadn’t shown it to her mother.
At the annual Youth Art exhibit reception in the Krempp Gallery on Sunday, Mom had the chance to check it out.
“She thinks she’s not good, but she is,” Merkel said of her humble daughter’s artistic skills.
Two galleries with paintings, drawings, photographs and three-dimensional pieces of art will be on display at the Jasper gallery this month. More than a hundred works made by Dubois County high school students will fill the space through Sunday, March 15, after which projects created by area middle school students will be placed around the room.
Some of the pieces can be purchased, but many are not for sale.
In a community that values the arts, the March gallery — which is held during the national Youth Art Month — is a way for burgeoning artists to highlight their talents, gain resume experience and network with students and teachers at other county schools.
“This is the only professional gallery exhibit that they display in,” Emily Peak, the Jasper’s visual arts coordinator, said of the opportunity it affords the students. An artist herself, Peak recalled showcasing her work in places like a bank or in a hallway at school — but never at a professional gallery.
Young artists who hung their work agreed that having the chance to show their projects in a formal setting is special to them. Bethany Critchfield and Maria Mehringer, both seniors at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School, see the youth art exhibit as a valuable opportunity.
“It changes things from doing something in a school setting,” Critchfield said. “Because we have [an] extravaganza where we show everything to the school, but it’s different having it in the Jasper community kind of place. It makes it kind of feel more real, I guess.”
Added Mehringer: “It’s also easier for our families, I can imagine, to come see it, rather than it being during a school event or in the evening. It’s up all month long, anybody can see it.”
The work shown at the youth art gallery “gets stronger and stronger every year,” Peak said. Tammy Hoffman-Taylor, art teacher at Forest Park, said the event offers the kids a way to share their work on a big stage and find inspiration in youth-generated art they might not have seen otherwise. She also takes note of the variety of projects.
“I think it’s cool because the whole county comes out,” she said. “It’s not just Forest Park or Southridge — it’s everybody. It’s kind of cool because my kids come and see what they’re doing at other schools.”
The Krempp Gallery is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and noon to 3 p.m. Sunday. Jasper Community Arts is a department of the City of Jasper and receives funding from the Friends of the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The upcoming middle school exhibit will be on display March 17-29, with a public reception from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 22.
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