Juried art show gives students a chance to display their work publicly


Black Widow spiders spark fear and revulsion in most people.  But for Ava Schillberg they provide creative inspiration.

“Color Theory Pinwheel” by Mackenzie Johnson-Rees is artwork was created using Google Draw, a laser cutter, and mixing primary tempera paint colors.

The Gates Middle School eighth-grader used the Black Widow as the focus of an art project she submitted to the school’s juried art show. 

The art show, taking place from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29 and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 at the Scituate Maritime Center, 119 Edward Foster Road, will feature the work of art students in Grades 6, 7 and 8.

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This will be the ninth year the Gates has held a student art show.

Ava will display several prints of a Black Widow spider with a heart on its abdomen appearing in front of white lace.

“Spider” is a collagraph plate created with layers of paper and paper lace, by Ava Schillberg.  Once the plate is prepared, it is printed on paper using water-based ink.

“A part of these pieces I really like is the legs,” she said. “They were a bit of a pain to create but in my opinion they’re the centerpiece.   Due to how the thin long legs of Black Widows naturally look elegant, it adds to the overall theme I was going for.”

Ava was inspired most by the contrast that can be created between spiders and beauty, she said.

“Spiders, especially Black Widows, are usually viewed as scary, but adding very delicate and soft features such as lace creates the idea the spider itself is delicate as well.  Delicate features and spiders are viewed in a complete opposite light which makes adding them together unique and fascinating.”

Sharing their vision

“Having the opportunity to participate in a juried art show allows students to experience the validation of having their artwork recognized by artists and the public outside of their art room,” said Gates Visual Arts Teacher Amanda Glover.

The artwork in the show was selected by local professional artists Kieli Storm, Marie Flaherty, and Stacey Hendrickson.

Emmi Corkins’ “Symbols of Scituate” is a two-point perspective drawing from a photograph of a local business.

“Students are used to having their art teachers praise their work and validate their self-expression, but it is really special when a local artist says, ‘I agree. I think this piece of artwork is exceptional,’” said Visual Arts Teacher Eileen Rotty. 

Sixth-grader Alyssa Paine spoke of how her art class was working on painting pictures based on Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings.

“Flower” is a mixed media painting inspired by the work of Georgia O'Keeffe. Art student Tess Beaudry used Elmer's Glue, watercolor, and a black permanent marker.

“You were supposed to draw a large-ish flower that touched all corners of the paper,” she said.  “Most people only focus on things that are young, such as people themselves, or plants and animals. No one really pays attention to things when they get old or notices the beauty of them. I’ve often found it elegant how plants turn brown when they’re dying. How the brown just fades in seamlessly with the natural color.”

The variety of work that was selected illustrates that there are many, many ways to excel at art and that no two artists see things the same way, said Visual Arts Teacher Danielle Mihaley. 

“We celebrate the diversity of expression at Gates, and we want the community to celebrate it as well.”

“Sebastian” by Jacklyn MacDonald is a clay cartoon coin bank that was hand-sculpted and finished with color glaze.

For her two-point perspective drawing and box, seventh-grader Nora Connaughton,  explained the main theme was for it to be based on a forest “or around things you might find in a forest, mainly frogs and mushrooms.”

“There were mushrooms on the corners and top of the box, and a small frog sitting on the top of the lid, which were all sculpted separately and then attached before firing.”

Her other project, the “HOPE” drawing, which is of two hands holding a dove, was created with graphite, she said.

This piece, “Master Portrait Remix,” is a mixed media interpretation of a famous painting by Frida Kahlo. Art student Georgia McLaughlin used paint, collage elements, and found objects to create an abstract interpretation of one of Kahlo's self-portraits.

“The graphite was blended to show shading. The dove in the picture is meant to symbolize peace, because doves have been a symbol for hope and peace for a very long time, and with the dove being held it could be a drawing that’s trying to show hope and peace being in your hands.”

We live in a society that is constantly validating and encouraging sports-related accomplishments and traditional academic accomplishments, Rotty said.

“Monarch” by Hayley Reynolds, is an acrylic paint wire sculpture inspired by patterns from nature.

“This show gives much-deserved recognition to students who excel in the arts.” 

The Gates Middle School Juried Art Show will take place from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29 and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 30 at the Scituate Maritime Center, 119 Edward Foster Road.

Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @scituateruth


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