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Student Artists Feature Cool, Creepy, Creative Works at Library Show

Artist Gabrielle Healy, Bloomfield Hills High School Senior, is excited to see her signature piece "Golden Girl" in the upcoming Art from the Hills showcase of art from students at Bloomfield Hills Schools. The show will be at the Bloomfield Township Library from May 15-26, 2018.  

The piece was created as part of Healy's Advanced Placement art class at BHHS. At the show, it will be printed on a t-shirt that is part of the branding for Healy's art. "My concentration has a lot to do with emotion and its relation to color," says Healy. "When I was creating this piece, I was thinking about happiness, self love, and the feelings I had when I've been at the happiest points in my life after coming through hard times." 

Healy shares, "I'm glad that this piece was chosen for the show because it shares a happy message. Many people can relate to the emotion that I'm attempting to show in my artwork, and I hope that when viewing it, it makes my audience happy."

This emotion is shared by students across all grade levels as a public show of student art is a critical component of engaging learner passion and motivation. Pennie Ellis, art teacher at Conant Elementary, explains, "The students learn that their visual communication voices can be heard and that what they have to say is important.  They come to understand that they are recognized in their school and their community because we value them and the arts as an integral part of the human experience."
 
Art from the Hills is an annual celebration of the Bloomfield Hills Schools' art department and incorporates all schools from kindergarten to grade twelve, including Wing Lake and the International Academy.  The artwork is just as diverse as the student population.  Art media such as charcoal drawing, digital arts, collage, printmaking, ceramic sculpture, watercolor, multimedia, found object sculpture, photography, jewelry, and many others are represented.

The show also serves as a visual record of the teaching process of art. According to Bloomfield Hills High School art teacher Matthew Beauchamp, "In all of our art classes, there is an emphasis on in-depth research, technical skill, and personal voice--all of which are demonstrated in the fabulous products our students produce. When the public sees all the incredible work together in one location, it really sends a positive message about the value of  having a comprehensive K-12 visual arts program."
   
Ellis agrees, "For the art teachers, the district show is very much a parallel to the process of creating art. Making art is both process and product.  The art teachers work all year guiding the students through the concepts, skills, and media processes so the art show is our product, our finished framed work." 

Art teachers choose about 20 two- and three-dimensional pieces from each building that showcases diverse and well-crafted artwork. There isn't any specific criteria, so the choices are up to the professional judgment of each teacher. Some factors may include exceeding project goals, showing tremendous personal student growth, communicating a unique perspective, or demonstrating commitment to excellence.  In addition, selections are made from each grade level within a school to ensure a visually exciting exhibition.

"Selecting the pieces is an arduous process for the teacher," says Jacquelynne Alizadeh, art teacher at Bloomfield Hills Middle School. "I personally hang on to work throughout the school year that satisfies the above criteria and then lay everything out to gauge which pieces are the strongest.  'Runners up' will be exhibited in some other show during the school year."

Beauchamp, who teaches three-dimensional art at BHHS, uses the "rule of cool" when selecting pieces of artwork.  Art show visitors will see hand-built ceramics, wheel-thrown pottery, and sculptures from those classes.  "If a student has had an innovative approach or the piece turned out really well, I usually put it in. Since the district art show is not a juried art display or competition, it is a great opportunity to showcase the most interesting artwork coming out of my classroom. In addition, I view my students' submissions as a varied collection with different visual appearances. I like a diverse mix of creepy, elegant, serious, humorous, and natural  art objects."

The exhibition is meant to show both the creativity of the students as well as the guiding hand of the art staff at Bloomfield Hills Schools, which regularly has students going on to some of the top art schools in the nation. Alizadeh comments, "I see the Art from the Hills exhibition as a truly rewarding way to demonstrate the strength and variety of our Visual Arts department in Bloomfield Hills Schools alongside the dedication and talent of our students and staff.  The work that is displayed shows the continuum of our shared teaching practices and principles and allows the student artists an exciting venue in which to show and discuss their work."

In addition, while the showcase is temporary, Beauchamp relates that the selection can have long-lasting effects, "When a student has their art on display at the Bloomfield Township Public Library, it really helps to boost their confidence as an artist.  It is a reward for all their hard work and also serves an inspiration to continue their love and pursuit of art."

A reception for all featured artists will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. for kindergarten through third graders and at 5:30 p.m. for grades four through twelve. The public is welcome to attend. The Bloomfield Township Library is located at 1099 Lone Pine Road, and operating hours are located on their website at www.btpl.org