The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


April 20, 2014

Looking sharp

Students’ art set for gallery in Mechanicsburg

SHARPSVILLE — Showing your artwork to family and friends is one thing. Putting your talent on public display in a gallery is a distinction artists dream about.

Students in Sharpsville Area School District were presented with that opportunity and Kris DeMark says her art classes have been brimming with creativity for the last six weeks and more.

“They’re excited and so am I,” she said. “They like the idea of having their work seen by a whole different group of people.”

Pennsylvania School Board Association has a gallery in its office building in Mechanicsburg.

The 1895 Student Art Gallery got its name from the year the nonprofit group began offering training, research and advocacy services to school boards that operate Pennsylvania’s public schools.

Work by students from schools across the state is shown during the year. The exhibit of Sharpsville students’ work will be on display throughout May.

“There are three panels in the small gallery they have,” DeMark said. “We will fill them with work by our elementary, middle school and high school students.”

DeMark is in the final stages of choosing 25 to 30 works that will be on view for the enjoyment of visitors to the board association’s office building.

Students getting ready for the show a couple weeks ago worked in a variety of media during their class.

Some were drawing in the studio with chalk, charcoal and pencils. They used photographs or other images as examples to inspire and guide their own work.

Others painted, using everything from watercolors and acrylics to oil paint. A few had fashioned objects from clay to be decorated with glaze and fired in the art department’s kiln.

Jordan Sherman was putting the finishing touches on a silk screen design for a T-shirt showing popular singer Beyonce in a performance  pose.

“I measured a shirt to find a scale for the image that would look right,” he said. “I went with 18 by 22 inches. I overlaid her image on a cutout of her name and assembled those pieces on a board.”

The design took about a week of class time, Jordan said.

As a freshman, Haley Sember is off to a good start on drawing. Working with chalk, she was referring to a photograph and drawing an image of a lynx that may be a candidate for the show.

“I’ve been sketching and drawing for a few years,” she said. “This year, I’ve been working on shading and coloring.”

Haley said her interest in art came from her father, Michael Sember, who also was a Sharpsville student artist a generation ago.

“He hasn’t painted for a long time but I was looking at some of his old stuff and it made me want to start drawing,” Haley said.

Sember, who graduated in 1985, stood out among others interested in fine art. His painting of Stevie Wonder’s “Hotter Than July” album cover won a first place award in a juried art show at Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Several students with an interest in pottery put their talents on the wheel in the service of  others.

They were invited to make soup bowls for “Empty Bowls,” a fundraiser held April 9 in Sharon to raise money for Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County.

For $15, patrons at the James E. Winner Jr. Arts & Culture Center could enjoy a bowl of soup and take home the work of local artists as a souvenir.

Vanessa Patterson decided to try working with clay and solid forms by making bowls.

“Mine is going to be light blue and emerald green,” Vanessa, 17, said, as she applied glaze with a brush.

For her, art is a means of  creative expression and a welcome change from other classes.

“Art helps me relax,” she said. “If I get stressed, I like to draw.”

When they’re looking for inspiration in an assignment, teenagers often turn to entertainers they admire.

Taylor Pollock went old school and chose the Beatles as the subject of her oil painting.

“They’re my favorite band,” she said.

The painting based on “Meet the Beatles,” the group’s first U.S. album, won’t be part of the show. It’s in a frame and the gallery prefers unframed works for display.

Taylor also enjoys taking photographs of local ballet students and artistic nature photos. A series of those will be part of the show.

Taylor was pleased and proud that her classmates’ talents are getting noticed in a formal setting.

“It’s great for Sharpsville,” she said. “We may be a small school district but we have a lot of talented students here.”

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