Displays featuring the works of nearly 300 students from schools in six counties will showcase their artistic efforts.
“Artists of the 21st Century,” an annual student art exhibition, will be on display through April 12 at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Loretto on the campus of St. Francis University and through April 17 at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier, One Boucher Lane and Route 711 South.
The two exhibits, which are held in conjunction with National Youth Art Month and the state Arts-in-Education Month, is open to schools that participate in SAMA’s Museum/School Partnership Program.
Through the program, SAMA educators travel to public and parochial schools to provide Arts-in-Education programs designed to enhance students’ understanding of art creation, technique, history, criticism and aesthetics. The award-winning program is the largest of its kind in the commonwealth.
The exhibits offer a glimpse of the region’s next generation of emerging artists.
The opening reception at Loretto has been held, and Ligonier’s welcome is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. March 2.
Parking for the Ligonier Valley reception is available at Fort Ligonier only, with free shuttles running to and from the museum. The reception is open to the public, but the museum suggests each visitor offer a $1 donation in support of the exhibition.
Jessica Campbell, the museum’s education coordinator, said the exhibition, in its 16th year, is a special program for young artists.
“The ‘Artists of the 21st Century’ exhibition is an opportunity for students to see their own work professionally exhibited in an accredited art museum,” she said.
Students from 31 schools in 15 districts are participating in the education programs and the exhibit. Each district is permitted to submit 20 individual projects and one group work.
Art from schools in Cambria, Somerset, Bedford and Blair counties will be featured in the Loretto exhibition.
Art from schools in Westmoreland and Fayette counties will be exhibited at Ligonier.
Some of the schools represented in the Loretto exhibition are Bishop McCort Catholic High School; Blacklick Valley Elementary and Junior Senior High schools; Cambria Heights Elementary School; Claysburg-Kimmel Elementary School; East Side Elementary School; Forest Hills Middle and High schools; Jackson Township Elementary School; Penn Cambria Primary, Intermediate, Middle and High schools; Portage Area Elementary and High schools; and St. Michael School.
Among the schools participating in the Ligonier Valley exhibition include the Valley School of Ligonier.
In 2009, more than 400 students participated in the annual exhibit. By 2011, a significant downturn of involvement began to occur.
“We began to see a decline after that when participating schools declined to take part because of the cuts in state funding,” Campbell said.
“However, entries have been more consistent over the last few years.”
Campbell is pleased with the variety of mediums in the exhibits – such as mixed media, collages, pencil drawings, ceramics and wood carvings.
“We also have a lot of group projects,” Campbell said.
Students from Blacklick Elementary used recycled floor tiles from a school renovation to create eight pieces.
“They took black-and-white tiles and created mosaics,” Campbell said.
“Cambria Heights Elementary created a mixed-media piece using quilting and print techniques. Another group of third- and fourth-graders made a project using recycled bottle caps.”
Campbell said the student art show is a special program for young artists.
“This exhibition has become a favorite of mine," she said.
“Unpacking, arranging and hanging the art is like going on an adventure.”
Campbell witnesses first hand what each school is creating and is thrilled to see the pride of accomplishment in the faces of the students.
“It’s so encouraging to attend the opening receptions, which are always crowded and filled with joy as each student looks to find their masterpiece,” Campbell said.
“I encourage everyone to come out and see the priceless works of art created by the talented youth in our area.”
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays at both museums and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays at Loretto and 1 to 5 p.m. weekends at Ligonier.
Tom Lavis covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter.com/Tom LavisTD.
What: “Artists of the 21st Century.”
Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Loretto and Ligonier Valley.
When: Loretto exhibit through April 12; Ligonier Valley exhibit through April 17.
Information: Loretto, 472-3920, and Ligonier Valley, 724-238-6015.