Howard County student artwork that's at home in a gallery

Howard County Times

Home is a state of mind as much as a street address for the Howard County Public School students participating in a group exhibit called "Imagining Home: Creating Community" that's filling Gallery I at the Howard County Arts Council.

Whatever their mediums of choice, these students often make artworks in which a basic house form is the center of attention. Indeed, it's everything for artists including Carmen Cheatham, who is in sixth-grade at Hammond Middle School, where she studies with instructor Ben Shipley. Cheatham's "The Family Home" is a paint-covered ceramic sculpture that would be easy to spot on any street owing to its bright red door and roof.

Another house-depicting artist is Ryan McKee, who is in eighth-grade at Glenwood Middle School. Incidentally, his instructor, Laurie Basham, received the arts council's annual Howie Award as Outstanding Arts Educator this year. McKee is among the Glenwood students who made prints based on drawings inspired by their own homes. His "The Midnight Home" consists of four identical images of a porch-front house at night, with each image relying upon different primary ink colors.

Yet another home-depicting artist is Anna Min, who is in kindergarten at Waverly Elementary School, where her instructor is Charlie Wehr. Mins paper collage "The House of My Dreams" relies upon compositional zones of assertive colors.

Similarly, Kaylee Burckard, a kindergarten student working with instructor Debra Leventer at Waverly Elementary School, has a construction paper collage titled "My Dream House and Me." It's notable for the roughly torn paper indicating a green lawn; and, of course, you will notice the house's pink roof.

Besides more or less conventional residential houses, you can see a playful house built by Katie Vance, who is in fourth-grade at Bollman Bridge Elementary School, where her instructor is Ray Henry. Vance's pedestal-sited "Tree House" was made out of styrofoam, wood, rope and acrylic paint. That paint makes quite a design statement, because the house's walls are blue, its roof is red and its floor is purple.

Among documentary depictions of domestic life, examples include Allison Smith, who is in 12th-grade at Marriotts Ridge High School, where her instructor is Joshua Sinn. Smith's "Rooms" consists of a grid of four photographs showing a living room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. Yes, there is some clutter evident in these rooms and so one has the gut-level realization that these photos were snapped by a student and not by a parent.

A single room is depicted in a photograph by Abigail Slaughter, who is in 11th-grade at Atholton High School, where her instructor is Scott Brenfleck. "My Home," which shows a drum kit and guitars in the corner of a room, gives a nice sense of how music can take over at least a portion of a house.

Although much of the exhibited artwork either does not depict people or features them as a relatively small presence within an architecturally-oriented composition, some of the student artists put people at the center of things.

Erin Park is in ninth-grade at Mount Hebron High School, where her instructor is Jo Tulkoff. The watercolor and colored pencil "Quiet Space" depicts a girl reading alone in bed. She's totally absorbed by her book, indicating how a child's bedroom is often a quiet retreat from the outside world.

You do not have to be inside your house to still feel completely at home, of course, as can be seen in an acrylic painting by Alexander Sorrentino, who is in fourth-grade at Lisbon Elementary School, where his instructor is Shawn Costello. "Home with My Chickens" depicts a cheerful child holding a chicken in a rural setting that includes a red barn in the background.

"Imagining Home: Creating Community" runs through April 21 in Gallery I at the Howard County Arts Council, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Running concurrently in Gallery II is "No Boundaries," a partnership with the Howard County Recreation and Parks Department's Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Services. Call 410-313-2787 or go to

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