Now see this: Youth art, ingenuity featured in downtown displays
Editor's note: This article has been amended from its original version to reflect a time change for the "I Colori" reception at the Berkshire Athenaeum. It takes place from 3-5 p.m. on Friday.
PITTSFIELD — Three downtown venues have opened their doors to showcase nearly a thousand pieces of student art work this winter.
On the heels of the "IS183 Art School Kids Create Show: A Learning Through Arts Showcase," hosted by the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, which closed on Monday, two new student art exhibits will host opening receptions this Friday, during the city's First Fridays Artswalk.
"I Colori Per La Pace: An exhibit of over 500 Berkshire County K-5th grade artists about "PEACE,"" opens in the Children's Library at the Berkshire Athenaeum on Wendell Avenue. A free, public reception will take place from 3-5 p.m. A "Youth Art Month" celebration kick-off will also kick off that evening, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum, 39 South St.
The "I Colori Per La Pace" exhibit, features a rainbow of 5-by-5-inch transparent square illustrations of what local school children think of when they consider the concept of "peace."
The collective work will then be shipped this spring to be part of an international exhibit, curated by a movement of the same name as the exhibit, chaired by Antonio Giannelli. Thousands of drawings are being collected from 93 nations around the world in collaboration with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, and will include the art of young people via associations operating in regions of crisis. The movement was developed as a way to memorialize the 560 people killed in Sant'Anna di Stazzema, Tuscany, Italy on Aug. 12, 1944 at the hand of Nazi German troops seeking to silence an Italian resistance movement during World War II. More than 100 children were among those systematically executed.
"To see this artwork created by kids inspired by peace is an absolute gift," said Berkshire Athenaeum Director Alex Reczkowski, who added that he was thrilled to collaborate with IS183 to host the "I Colori" exhibit while simultaneously brightening the Children's Library.
"The foundation of librarianship has access as a cornerstone, and this project turns that on its ear a bit: Usually we think about providing access to books or resources, computers or WiFi; but, for me, this project gives us access to something even more valuable: the hope of the future."
Reczkowski said Friday's family-friendly opening reception will not only introduce people to this aspect of the art world, but also give guests an opportunity to work with IS183 and library staff on an art project, "so folks can make a piece of the joy and peace to take along home."
Just a couple of blocks away, in the Berkshire Museum's Crane Room, people will be able to view an exhibition of artwork from 12 art classrooms across Berkshire County, through March 31. Art educator Mary Beth Eldridge, who curated the visual art exhibit says she worked with nearly 20 teachers to gather some 175 pieces of art by students from various grades, with support from the Berkshire County Arts Educators Professional Learning Network.
Because March is designated Youth Art Month and Music in Our Schools month by national arts education groups, Friday's reception will include musical performances by student musicians. The Jazz Ensemble from Hoosac Valley High School, directed by Jacob Keplinger, will perform at 5 p.m. At 6, the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School Wind Quartet, directed by James Bergin, performs a wide variety of classical and popular music on flutes, clarinet, and trumpet, as well as drums, bass, and keyboard.
Asked why it's important to showcase students' artistic endeavors, Eldridge said, "It's important, because a show like this emphasizes the value of young people's artistic expression, and the quality and importance of art programs in our county schools."
She said, "I think visitors will be impressed with the range and quality of the work. Some teachers will include statements about their classroom practices and their students' work. Drafting, revising, presenting and performing are national and state standards for arts education."
In addition to the Pittsfield exhibits, the mixed media works in the 32nd Annual Berkshire County High School Art Show remain on view through Sunday, further evidence to the robust school-based art programs available to local students in both public and independent schools.
Said Lucie Castaldo, director of IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, the mission of her organization and other public youth art shows is to emphasize the value that "art is for everyone," and that people should not feel locked out by admission fees or feel afraid that art gallery experiences aren't for them.
"For me, this is also about supporting the confidence of students," she said.
Student art shows in the Berkshires
All of the following shows are free and open to the public.
What: I Colori Per La Pace: An exhibit of Berkshire County K-5 artists about "PEACE"
Where: Children's Library at Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield.
When: Reception is from 3-5 p.m. on Friday. Works remain on view through March 13.
Info: Call IS183 at 413-298-5252, ext. 100 or visit is183.org
What: Youth Art Month and Music in Our Schools month celebrated.
Where: Crane Room of the Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield.
When: Reception is from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, featuring live student musical performances. Works remain on view through March 31.
Info: 413-443-7171 or berkshiremuseum.org
What: 32nd Annual Berkshire County High School Art Show.
Where: Lower gallery of Norman Rockwell Museum, 9 Glendale Road (Route 183), Stockbridge.
When: This is the final week. The show closes after Sunday.
Info: 413-298-4100, nrm.org
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