Williamsburg Art Gallery exhibit showcases student creativity

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

It’s a major milestone for the art students attending Hampton Roads Academy. The Williamsburg Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit featuring works from the academy’s Upper School, spanning ninth through 12th grade.

Christine Contakes, a teacher at the academy, had one goal in mind for her students while helping organize the exhibit: “To know that they really are artists even though they’re students.”

The tabletop display features both 2D and 3D works. The collection is largely comprised of ceramics, with small oil paintings, photographs and the like included.

“It’s a very high technical quality of craftsmanship,” Contakes said. “Conceptually, it emphasizes high-level thinking. They have something to say about their artwork.”

Contakes intends for the exhibit to showcase the value of Hampton Roads Academy, which offers visual and performing arts programs from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

“I hope they see that the students take pride in their work and it makes them appreciate the work our kids do,” she said, highlighting the school’s deliberately small class sizes. “We can really give them a lot of individual attention.”

Contakes also expressed gratitude for Williamsburg Art Gallery owners Gulay and Clyde Berryman for hosting the exhibit.

“They’ve been very supportive, extremely accommodating,” she said. “My kids are just thrilled. The whole school is thrilled at this opportunity.”

For the gallery, which offers other opportunities, such as internships for high school and college students, it’s another way to foster the next generation of artists.

“We always like to do as much as we can with youth,” said Clyde Berryman. “It’s nice to see your work exhibited in an art gallery with professional artists. It would give you a bit of a rush, I would think.”

He lauded the imagination students’ displayed through their work.

“It doesn’t necessarily take age and lots of experience to have a spark of creativity,” Berryman said. “It takes observation.”

Want to go?

The Hampton Roads Academy Upper School Art Exhibit opens Sunday and runs through Sept. 23 at Williamsburg Art Gallery, 440A W. Duke of Gloucester St. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

An opening reception kicks off the exhibt from 1-3 p.m. Sunday; academy musicians will perform and refreshments will be served.

The reception and general admission are free.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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