Contemporary Art Center celebrates student artists

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center's latest show features 131 works of art from 93 area high school students in a celebration of young talent and a glimpse at the next generation of artistic minds. The exhibit launched Tuesday with an awards ceremony and reception.

“It’s a really strong show,” said show manager Karen Schwartz. “These kids are amazing and the quality of the artwork is an inspiration.”

The annual show, in its 15th year, accepts submissions from six schools: Jamestown, Lafayette, Warhill and Bruton high schools, alongside Walsingham Academy and Providence Classical School.

The number of pieces chosen from each institution varies based on the size of its student population; the schools’ art teachers decided what pieces were submitted for consideration. Selections span charcoal and pastel drawings, oil and watercolor paintings, ceramic sculptures, digital photography and other media.

“Over the years, I’ve become familiar with their regular assignments,” Schwartz said, noting that sometimes students’ work can feel more driven by the pursuit of grades than by genuine inspiration. But with the latest show, she said that the submissions overall felt less like a series of assignments for class.

Guest judge James Warwick Jones, an artist and gallery manager of Hampton’s Charles H. Taylor Art Center, awarded 25 accolades: first, second and third place, eight merit awards and 14 honorable mentions.

Bruton student Logan Dahir took third place for his digital photograph titled, “Pullman in Williamsburg.”

Warhill students nabbed the top two spots: An untitled oil painting by Nora Peterson earned silver, and Joanna Nunez took home best in show for her “Social Dress” charcoal piece.

“This artist had two beautiful and mysterious pieces,” Jones said of Nunez, praising her art’s strong design and impact.

Warhill student Mary O’Connor received an honorable mention for her oil painting, “Summertime Shower.”

“It’s just really nice to be recognized for all the hard work that you put in,” she said. “It’s great to meet with the art students from the other schools.”

Schwartz praised the talent of the students and the positive impact of the schools’ art programs.

“Our schools have really terrific art departments and instructors,” she said.

Schwartz said the gallery’s high school show serves as inspiration for students, WCAC’s member artists and the community as a whole.

“It puts a really positive spin on our kids. It’s a good experience for them,” she said. “Every year it gets better.”

Want to go?

The annual High School Student Show runs through Feb. 9 at the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center, 110 Westover Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

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

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