By DIANE SPEER
News Lifestyles Editor
It's not every student who can boast about having their art exhibited in a bona fide gallery space, but nearly 20 from Thunder Bay Junior High currently claim that right.
News Photo by Diane Speer
These are some of the students from Thunder Bay Junior High School whose artwork currently is on display at the Thunder Bay Arts Council Gallery. In the front, from left, are Jordan Zielaskowski, Zoe Stier and Thommy Hein. Shown in the back row are Bailee Thomas, Wesley DesJardins, Ciera Jino, Tori Gentry, Sam Beatty, Megan Kreger and Kaitlyn Frisch.
The students, enrolled in classes taught by TBJHS art instructor Kathleen Hubbard and woods/metals instructor Elizabeth Schmanski, are showing off their skills at the Thunder Bay Arts Council Gallery at 127 W. Chisholm.
The gallery represents 25 adult artists, but also devotes a dedicated space to art created by a younger generation. It is here that colorful loom weavings, fall still life drawings, huichol Mexican yarn paintings and carved wooden plaques by the students are on display.
"It's a wonderful thing for the kids to have this opportunity and to see them sparkle," said Hubbard.
A reception will be held in their honor Dec. 2 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the gallery. In addition to giving the students, plus their family and friends a chance to see their work hanging at the gallery, live music will be provided by members of the Thunder Bay Junior High Choir. Refreshments also will be served.
Among those with work on display is Zoe Stier, who created one of the weavings.
"Some of the weavings look like they are from different seasons," Stier said. "Mine is from spring."
Fellow student Jordan Zielaskowski went more for a fall look with her weaving project by incorporating yarn, beads and clay, while Thommy Hein opted for red, white and blue materials on his piece.
Student Kaitlyn Frisch's art project was created in woods and metals class as a present for her father, a major Red Wings fan. She first chose a design via the computer, carved it with a pen onto wood, and then routered it, painted it and smoothed it to a fine finish.
"It took about a week to complete," Frisch said. "It's a gift for my dad."
One art student whose work isn't currently represented at the gallery is Megan Kreger. That's because her piece was selected to hang in the office of Alpena Public Schools Superintendent Brent Holcomb. Nevertheless, she is looking forward to the special reception planned for her and her classmates.
Hubbard is grateful to the Thunder Bay Arts Council for showcasing the projects done by the students and she credits her colleague, librarian Susan Kaiser, for helping to make it happen. Hubbard explained that several years ago she approached Kaiser, who oversees the library media center at the junior high, about hanging a student sculpture there.
According to Hubbard, Kaiser was more than happy to accommodate her request and eventually took it a step further by establishing a gallery in the media center designed specifically for displaying student art projects on a regular basis.
Kaiser, now a member of the TBAC board of directors, ultimately approached the arts council with the concept to provide a dedicated student space at the TBAC Gallery.
"It was a natural transition to move from the junior high to the gallery," said Kaiser, adding that other local schools besides TBJH have had their work exhibited at there.
The student art is switched out about every two months, with the pieces by the junior high students scheduled to be on display through the beginning of January.
"The kids really have proven themselves to be wonderful artists, even at this young age," Kaiser said. "We are hoping that by giving these kids a venue, when they become adults, they will be a part of the art scene. We want to show them what options are available here for them."
Thunder Bay Arts Council is committed to nurturing and encouraging young artists and musicians not only through what is called the YouthCorp Exhibit space, but also by providing student workshops in area schools and displaying student art work at all of their performing arts events. Students also are always provided free access to all TBAC events.
For more information about TBAC or the student exhibit, call 356-6678 or go online to www.alpenatbarts.org.