Berkshire County High School Art Show celebrates 30th anniversary

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Photo Gallery | 30th annual Student Art Show at Norman Rockwell Museum

STOCKBRIDGE — The nation's biggest football game isn't the only event marking a milestone this weekend.

Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the Berkshire County High School Art Show, organized and held at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Like their athletic counterparts, the students behind the artwork have been giving it their all in tackling complex concepts, reaching new goals and letting their creativity run farther than perhaps ever before.

The exhibit opening takes place from 2 to 4 p.m., and is free and open to the public. Illustrator Dennis Dittrich, whose clients range from Sports Illustrated to the Smithsonian magazine will be the guest speaker.

A total of 130 pieces submitted by 15 local public, parochial and independent schools will be on display through March 6, spanning across media, from wood to watercolor, porcelain to paper towels. Forms range from paintings to sculpture to fashion, photography scratch boards, tiles and more.

The museum's Curator of Education Tom Daly, who helps organize the exhibit, said this year's show should impress visitors particularly for its range in multi-dimensional pieces, from a jacket, "Awesome Femme Fatale," stitched by 17-year-old Katie Mitts of Lenox to "SEAL," an encased wood sculpture crafted by 16-year-old Berkshire School student, Alex Buckfire.

"This year there's such an interesting diversity to the work," said Daly.

He hopes this year's anniversary year in particular will attract alumni of the show to see the next generation's work.

"I've run into people and heard from them over the years and people do remember it. It's an experience they take with them," said Daly.

Schools used to be invited to submit an unlimited amount of student works, but that proved to be complicated come installation time, he said. So while the Berkshire County High School Art Show remains a non-juried exhibition, each high school for the past several years has been asked to submit up to 10 of its collectively best works.

The method of selection varies.

At Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton, art teacher Bonnie Capogna put the choice in students hands by allowing students to vote from works submitted by students in her advanced classes. The pieces are assigned numbers and displayed in an in-school show to be judged.

"Since the [Rockwell] show is a student art show, I like [students] to be able to have a say of what goes into the show," said Capogna, who has taught at the school for 13 years. "Some students work hard to make a piece for it."

At other schools, preference is given to advance art students and upperclassmen.

St. Joseph Central High School art teacher Dale Zola has submitted student works from the Berkshire County High School Art Show's beginning. "I pick out what I feel is exceptional," she said.

Zola selected works by two seniors that demonstrated their growth and dedication to the arts. Anita Curtin meticulously cut paper for a mosaic to recreate an oil painting originally designed by artist Leonid Afremov. "She's wonderful at paper cutting and patience," said Zola.

The second student, Papachaya "Pookie" Vongprommool, who typically creates intricate black and white patterns in her work, strayed from her comfort zone to produce an image of a girl with earphones listening to music with rivulets of color spilling forth from her head.

"Art is subjective, yet as an art teacher you have a unique, personal understanding of where the work came from and how the artists' ideas evolved. The Norman Rockwell show gives teachers the opportunity to select the work that has value beyond the image that they see," said Neel Webber, a veteran art teacher of 27 years, 20 of which he's taught at Monument Mountain Regional High School.

Capogna, Zola and Webber all agreed that the perk of the show is students getting to see their professionally hung work installed with their names in a world-renowned museum for a full month. Berkshire Bank Foundation helps support that.

Daly noted that exhibiting youths' works is an extension of the Rockwell legacy. At age 14, Norman Rockwell himself enrolled in art classes at The New York School of Art. He painted his first commission of four Christmas cards before his 16th birthday and began studying art full-time at The National Academy of Design and The Art Students League. While still in his teens, he was hired as art director of Boys' Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, and began a successful freelance career illustrating a variety of young people's publications.

After the Berkshire County High School Art Show, the museum will present the Young Artists Series "Reimagining The Four Freedoms," from March 11 through April 3.

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" speech, the exhibit will feature original artworks re-imagining Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms paintings as created by New York's Region 6 Capital Eastern District high school students from Schoharie, Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington counties.

What: Berkshire County High School Art Show

When: Feb. 6 through March 6. Opening reception Feb. 6 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Where: Norman Rockwell Museum, 9 Route 183, Stockbridge.

A total of 130 pieces of artwork will be on display by students from the following schools:

Berkshire School

Buxton School

Drury High School

John Dewey Academy

Lee Middle and High School

Lenox Memorial Middle and High School

Miss Hall's School

Monument Mountain Regional High School

Mt. Everett Regional School

Mt. Greylock Regional School

Pittsfield High School

St. Joseph Central High School

Student Resource Center

Taconic High School

Wahconah Regional High School


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