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Special exhibit brings the "Arts Alive" for local students

Kaylyn Dion of Winnisquam Middle School holds up her papier maiche whale, which she cleverly covered with colorful band aids. It was one of hundreds of pieces of artwork on display at the Belknap Mill’s Arts Alive exhibit for local schools over the past few weeks. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
March 28, 2012
LACONIA — The exhibit has ended, but for many young artists, the memories of seeing their work on display at the Belknap Mill in mid-March will live on for years to come.

"Arts Alive" gave rising stars from elementary school through high school a chance to shine in a gallery setting where their work was viewed by both their families and the general public.

Each participating school district in the Arts Alive program was assigned an evening to host an open house for visitors to view their exhibits. The Winnisquam Regional School District held their open house on March 15, and the gallery was filled with proud parents and students, as well as equally proud art teachers, Jessica Cobbett of the middle school and John Larson from the high school.

"This is just a sample of the tremendous talent at the Middle School. I wish I had room for more, but we're limited in how much space we have for our display. They all did so great, it was hard to decide what to bring," said Cobbett.

Some of the young artists were available to explain how their individual pieces were made. Eighth grade student Kaylyn Dion from WMS created an eye-catching whale from paper mache and a second interesting medium- band aid that she enjoyed talking about to admirers.

"I was trying to think what I could cover it with when I got the papier maiche part done, and I came up with this idea in class one day," Dion said.

The whimsical whale was coated with hundreds of colorful children's band aids from 25 boxes her mother purchased for the project. Dion said she loves art, and can never seem to get enough from just the standard 90 minute classes.

"I wish the class was longer, so that's why I joined the Art Club, too," she said.

Sixth grade students created clever bobble heads and ceramic bookends. Josh Crandall skillfully recreated Rodin's famed "The Thinker" sculpture for his set of bookends. Under Cobbett's tutelage seventh grade students did print making, ceramic salt and pepper shakers in many original designs and also created some copper tooling pieces. For the eighth grade, there was a large display of ceramic mugs, matted still life artwork and Batik prints.

Cobbett credited the elementary school art teachers for sending her such talented students to work with at the next level.

"The program for the younger students is really igniting, and has been very influential in how art is being taught in the district now," she said.

Larson is new to WRHS this year, and said he has been very impressed with the talent he has seen, too. Students at the high school level did a lot of work in Scratch Art, where white paper is first covered with India ink and the image is then etched into the piece with a sharp stylus.

"Instead of leaving a lot on the paper, you're taking away (from the ink) to create art," Larson explained.

Several line drawings also hung on the gallery wall, and more experienced students progressed to Value Drawing, where they added on to a portion of a photo to make a complete drawing or portrait. There were also some beautiful portraits and self-portraits done by other students in charcoal.

On the second floor of the historic mill building, pine cone moose characters, coil pots, clay whistles and other vivid designs from construction paper and other mediums were submitted by the elementary schools.

While open house events for Belmont, Gilford, Laconia and Inter-Lakes schools were held on other evenings, their artwork was also available for everyone to admire each night. Gilford and Inter-Lakes High Schools had wall displays of pencil, charcoal and painted works, and Belmont Elementary School turned a portion of the second floor into a forest with their birch tree paintings. There were also many ceramic pieces on display from BES and Gilford elementary covered a wall and one window with their fanciful masks and some clever "word art."

"These students are all diamonds in the rough and it's our job as art teachers to just shine them up a little more. They did some wonderful things this year," said Larson.

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