A lively crowd was on hand at the Delaplaine Arts Center on March 2 to view an outstanding display of youth art at the Frederick County Public Schools All-County Student Art Show. The exhibit included finalists for the 2019 Elizabeth Barker Delaplaine Award for Young Artists—the Bettie Award.
The interior gallery is devoted to the finalists, four from Urbana High School, and the surrounding main gallery displays entries from FCPS students in all grades.
Each work is tastefully set off by white matting, and several pieces hang from the ceiling or are displayed on stands throughout the space. A particularly interesting framework stand holds a number of pieces suspended from wire as if in flight.
Black and white photography is always appealing and two of the Urbana High School Bettie Award finalist entries were in this medium. Kendall Larade’s “Elsewhere” is a thoughtful portrayal of one of her favorite subjects—her brother Aidan. “I’ve just started doing photography,” Larade explained. “It is one of my favorites. It captures something that’s really there.”
Saahiti Potluri’s “Sunday Afternoon, 2:46 pm,” is also a photo of a brother—“He’s my model for a lot of my work.” The photograph was submitted at the urging of her teacher, Tracey Ellis-Guss. A senior, Potluri said, “Photography is the first elective I’ve been able to take.” The shot was a class assignment on the study of shadows. Potluri took the course partly because her father is also into photography and he gave her a camera. Her interest is in mastering composition—“I like shadow and line, which are basic elements that our teacher taught us.”
Benjamin Clarke’s “Hypocrisy,” an arresting personal interpretation of contemporary America, is also noteworthy for the use of aerosol paint. The work was done on canvas in his garage during the polar vortex. “I was outside in the garage in freezing weather trying to paint,” Clarke said. He described the technique of blocking off sections with card stock and spraying them with aerosol paint. The cloud formations, of which he is especially proud, are ripped printer paper in unusual shapes laid down on the canvas in layers. “The statue is innovative,” Clarke said. “I am artistically inspired by Banksy and Dr. Brainwash and You Tube videos using aerosol painting techniques.” He said he felt compelled to do something expressing his views on the U.S. political stance. “We have inched toward isolationism, immigrant rhetoric. … It goes against what we stand for. It is a juxtaposition … I want to shock my audience!” he said.
The fourth UHS award finalist was Leah Peckham with her lovely shades of blue and lavender in “The Flowers on Bettie’s Table.” Inspired by her grandmother, Bettie, the painting was created on a table that belonged to her. Peckham said that her grandmother always wanted to be an artist but never was. It is a kind of tribute to her, particularly since she shares the same spelling of her name with the award’s namesake. Peckham painted the piece from photos. “Nature can be so beautiful,” she said.
I was impressed by the noticeable progression through the ages and grades. I also loved the diversity of subject matter and media—from the purple dragon flying on the ceiling, to the box of Milk Duds, to the life-size ceramic goat head, sculpture, photography and painting. This exhibit showcases truly talented young artists, all deserving of recognition for their creations.
Katherine Moreland, CEO of Delaplaine, introduced the award that was being presented for a fifth year in support of young artists and give students a chance to exhibit at the professional level. Moreland noted that the finalists were judged on composition, originality, success in communicating their message, originality, preparedness for exhibition and mastery of the medium.
The program is co-sponsored by the Frederick County Art Association, who participated in the judging. From 90 submissions, judges pared the finalists down to 13. Four judges determined the grand prize winner, “American Boy” by Linganore High School student Colleen Avila. The first prize came with a $1,000 award and the 12 finalists received $100 each. The crowd was encouraged to vote for the People’s Choice Award, with a $250 prize going to the selected artist.
An added treat is the Frederick County Public Schools Faculty Show in the upper level gallery. It features works in a variety of media created by art educators in the county. I was particularly drawn to the mystical “Izanami” by UHS’s Tracey Ellis-Guss and the stunning ceramic “Trout Vessel” by Daniel Neuland of Tuscarora High School.
March is Youth Art Month. Stop by the Delaplaine and feast your eyes on the work of budding local artists until March 31.