30 May Around the Corner Opening Reception–“The Frosting on the Cake”
A gallery full of artists and teachers and families and community members. Musicians. Speech-makers, because there were many people and organizations to be thanked. An emcee who kept things moving.
The big image above shows a collaborative installation by students at Luther North College Prep. Below, students admire a collaborative painting by Steinmetz High School students.
Teens “just around the corner” from their adult lives were given an opportunity to exhibit their work at the 2nd annual Around the Corner show. Last year’s theme was “My Life Journey: Influences that Made Me Who I Am”; this year’s theme, “Dreams for the Future,” built on that.
Northwest Arts Connection (NAC) presented the exhibit. But no one can put together an exhibit by themselves. One of Chicago’s most respected art galleries hosted the show—Hairpin Arts Center, at 2810 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago.The gallery would have been empty without the talented teen artists who participated—students from four Northwest Side schools, including Luther North College Prep, Lydia Urban Academy, Steinmetz Academic Centre High School, and Aspira Early College Prep. The students couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of teachers. Nothing would have happened without partners and sponsors, who deserve a big shout-out.
After-school buildOn student volunteers from Schurz High School helped set things up and take them down, greeted visitors, served refreshments, took photos, and helped to keep everything operating smoothly. They earned community service points toward a trip somewhere in the world where the needs are great. When they arrive, these young people will live with local families and build schools.
Teen musicians from UpBeat Music and Arts provided a fun and festive atmosphere.
Quite a few guests attended the reception, and the gallery was nicely filled. A NAC member counted more than 100 before she stopped counting. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and enjoying the art work. Some viewers expressed wonder that it was all done by teens.
Below, community members are interested in the Lydia Urban Academy pieces and the desire for change they express. For their “Concerning Dreams” collaboration, the artists said, “We considered what it takes to reach our goals for the future. Sitting back and hoping for our dreams to come true isn’t the key to success! With this collaborative piece, the students at Lydia want to remind our audience that every day we have to make a conscious decision to live with the future in mind.”
Some of the artists seemed to start out rather shy but blossomed as visitors expressed interest in their work and asked questions.
The quality of the art impressed Hairpin’s director, Gretchen Henninger, so much that she offered to let the exhibit stay up for a week rather than the two days she had originally agreed upon.
One teacher noted “It was a wonderful event. Very nice to see all the students stand proudly by their work displayed in such a lovely space.” Another said he would like to participate again next year in the same space.
The reception on May 14, 2016 was the frosting on the cake. But it was really the culmination of months of work by many people involved, especially by the artists themselves and their teachers. For instance, below on the left is a detail from a work in progress and on the right is the completed painting, which was a collaboration by Aspira students and took weeks to finish.
These young artists got a taste of the experience of participating in a show. They had to create work and get it ready for display, they had to help hang it, and they had to talk about their art with interested viewers.
The night before the reception, students from five schools came together to prepare for the exhibit (the four schools that submitted art, plus Schurz High School buildOn students and Upbeat students). They are all from the Northwest Side, but the schools are very different. The teens all interacted well, and one observer described the situation as “no tension, no worries, no drama.”
Some of these students are clearly interested in making a career of art; they have applied to and been accepted into art schools. Others may never become professional artists, but they had the thrill of exhibiting their work. We hope this will instill them with self-confidence as well as reinforce a lifelong love of art and a desire to make the arts a vibrant part of their communities.
Thank you to our partner! You are so big-hearted!