BELFAST—For the third year, the walls of Waterfall Arts’ Clifford and Corridor Galleries are covered in children’s and teenagers’ art—some of it as recognizable as what you’d find on a refrigerator at home and some, arresting enough to stop and try to find out how old the artist is.
To celebrate Arts Education month, Waterfall Arts kicked off an opening reception March 2, showcasing artwork from kindergarteners to high schoolers. Artwork came from half dozen area schools, from individual students and from Waterfall Arts’ own sixth graders fromWaterfall Arts’ after-school programs. Some of it was assigned; some of it came from the young artist’s creative inspiration and each one is a little window into how kids today think.
In the Clifford Gallery, nine evenly spaced canvases take up one side of the far wall. Though each canvas is painted in an individual style and color featuring one word chosen by the student, as a whole, the symmetry of the piece comes together as as artistic unit.
“Those were from our 6th grade BRIDGE students, many of whom hadn’t painted on canvas before,” said Bridget Matros, Youth and Family Outreach Coordinator and BRIDGE instructor. “Most are more comfortable drawing. But, they went for a new challenge and I'm glad they did. They got the whole frustrating and rewarding experience of having to get past not liking their work and just putting in more time. There were great ‘happy mistakes’ too. They worked for three weeks to finish the piece."
At the top of the second story stairwell in the Corridor Gallery, a series of political artwork hangs, done by social studies students—not art students—and yet the pieces are striking.
“We had something different submitted this year,” added Meg Fournier, Communications and Development Manager. “The eighth graders at Warsaw Middle School from Pittsfield were in a social studies semester program studying art and social justice. They were studying civil rights and injustices and processed what they’d absorbed from it visually in artwork that could be interpreted as controversial.”
Topics range from the abstract to the political.
“It was the first time we had a moment where we thought ‘is this too controversial?” said Matros. “We all had to have a conversation about it before we decided to go ahead and include the whole group of pieces. This is a shining example of arts integration in the curriculum. We all learn through emotion, and the more you introduce students to subjects that engage their emotions and imagination, the more retention they’ll have of that subject matter.”
Ultimately, exhibitions like these speak to the need for advocating art in all forms in schools. The artwork hangs until March 29. The gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information visit: waterfallarts.org
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com