By Judith Dorato O’Gara
Looking for something to do on a chilly winter day? Starting February 17th through March 16th, you can head over to the Franklin Art Association Gallery, located at Escape Into Fiction Bookstore at 12 Main Street, Franklin, to see the Franklin High School Student Art Exhibit.
The show will also feature an opening reception, where the public can meet the artists, on Thursday, February 29th, from 6-8 p.m. (snow date: March 7th)
“The purpose of a gallery is to display and connect artists with the general public, and certainly connecting the high school student’s artworks with the local community is really important for the students, to have their art seen, and for the community to see art. This is going to be a real-life experience for students to engage (with the public). It’s a win-win all the way around,” says Franklin Art Association member Judy Butler.
The idea for the student art show emerged when Butler told one of the Franklin Art Association show judges, Brenna Johnson, art teacher at FHS, that the group hoped to support art students. Johnson suggested having a student gallery show, and the Franklin Art Association board unanimously and immediately welcomed the idea.
Butler adds, “I think galleries are maybe (perceived as) mysterious or elitist or exclusive, but we’re trying to change that, nurture visual artists and expose them to the public, but also expose the public to art. It’s free. You just walk in and get to see all the creative works the community members are doing. There’s no cost to attend the reception, you don’t have to dress up, and you can talk to the students about their work and what their hopes and dreams are about their artistic futures.
The Franklin Art Association has long supported the futures of FHS art students, according to FHS Art Teacher Danielle LaPlante. “Franklin High has a good relationship with the Franklin Art Association,” she says, “They give a scholarship every year to a student going into art or design, and they come every spring and look at the work, and then there’s other things, too. They’re such a great supporter for the Franklin High Visual Arts Program.”
On the show, LaPlante says, “This is such an awesome opportunity. Students have shows here (at Franklin High School) all the time, which is great, but to have their work shown in a local gallery, where the community can come in feels very real and authentic. I think it’s very exciting to be in a different place.”
LaPlante admits this chance is new to the high school, and she and other art teachers were “planning on showing some of our more advanced student work, junior and seniors. We have visual photographers, a great architectural program, graphic designers. Definitely traditional drawing and painting, and there is a space for 3D work.” The decisions on which 30 or so student pieces to choose was a difficult one, she says, as so many of the students are talented.
Sue Sheridan, president of the Franklin Art Association, is thrilled about the collaboration.
“The Franklin Art Association has been actively promoting the arts through educational programming and opportunities to exhibit for over fifty years. So it is with great pleasure that we are now collaborating with the Franklin High School Art Department to offer exhibit space at the Association gallery at Escape into Fiction bookstore. Giving our young artists an opportunity to show their artwork in a professional gallery space is very exciting for them and for us! We look forward to more events of this type in the future. The public is invited to view the student show during bookstore hours, and to attend the gala reception on February 29th at 6 p.m.”
Butler adds that art is an important element of a full education.
“There are Common Core state standards for curriculum at each of the grade levels,” says Butler, “I would like the general public to understand that this art is academic. I think people need (to learn) the value of art education.”