"Rose Petal Book" is a mixed media piece by Victoria Peterson.
"Rose Petal Book" is a mixed media piece by Victoria Peterson.
Students from four area high schools, Fillmore Central, Chatfield, Rushford-Peterson and Lanesboro, will soon be in the spotlight for work they have created in their art programs.

The four art departments will be showcasing the best of their respective students' work in the annual Juried High School Art Show at the Lanesboro Art Center.

A formal reception that is free and open to the general public will open the exhibit on Saturday, Jan 12, and will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Over 80 student-artists and their teachers will be on hand to discuss their work with interested visitors.

The building, according to the art center's gallery director, Robbie Brokken, is usually packed with parents, school administration and community members from all over for an event that "enables them to experience the arts."

Interest and participation from local high schools in the art show has increased steadily over the years, so much so that the art center has been unable to accept every submission due to the size of the gallery. This is where the "competition" factors in, as pieces are judged by the art center to see if they warrant placement in the gallery.

The teachers also play a role in determining which pieces get submitted. Carrie Mathison, who is the art teacher at Fillmore Central, explained how she tries to make sure the school's submissions reflect the variety of methods and mediums used by her classes as well as to give honor to those students who excel.

"The show is an incentive for them to work harder," said Mathison, whose students have produced art ranging from watercolor self-portraits to metal work.

The exhibit will display this artistic diversity until Jan. 27, but only at the reception will visitors get to speak with the artists themselves, who are oftentimes the unseen half of what truly makes a piece of art.

"I want to show that, even at an amateur level, there is meaning involved," shared Chris Collett, a senior from Harmony who attends Fillmore Central. Collett has shown work at the art center before, but said this year he has put more thought into his pieces.

Mathison pointed out that many students like Collett understand that artwork can evolve, not just in what you can see, but also in what meaning is attached to a piece.

There are other artists who approach their work in a totally different way. Haley Ostrom, who is a freshman student at Fillmore Central from Fountain, chose to create a piece that reflected a part of who she is. She enjoys animal prints and chose to incorporate that into a painting.

"Painting is one of my favorite forms of art," Ostrom stated, who is looking forward to showing a few of her paintings in the art show.

The motivation seems to be different, but the purpose of sharing their work with others drives both Collett and Ostrom. The privilege of showing their work is one that isn't granted very often, but they plan on making the most of this opportunity.

"It's really a feel-good show," explained Brokken, who has witnessed how it is a great stage for schools to show their creativity in a non-school setting. It is also an opportunity for art teachers from the participating schools to meet and develop valuable networks for art instruction improvement.

Mathison added that these kind of events also help improve the chances of receiving state grants.

Perhaps the most important outcome of the art show in the past has been the increase in public appreciation for the schools' art programs and for the effort the students put in to their work.

"Come to the show opening to meet the students and teachers," shared Mathison. "They love sharing their work."