Storytelling is an art for Howard County students

If every picture tells a story, there are dozens of stories being told in the current exhibit at the Howard County Arts Council. "Visual Storyteller: Narrative in Art" features artwork in various media by students in the Howard County Public School system.

There are all kinds of stories being told here, but quite a few are autobiographical combinations of image and text. Nathan Swales, for instance, is a fifth-grader at Bushy Park Elementary School whose chalk pastel and marker "Self-Portrait" is a straightforward depiction. In a text about himself that runs in a narrow band around his outlined figure, this student artist describes his career aspirations and also how he wants to be funny.


Some of the portraits and self-portraits demonstrate the influence of famous artists and styles of art.

In Yasmine Megdiche's painting "Cubism Self-Portrait," this fourth-grader at Talbott Springs Elementary School uses Pablo Picasso-style blocks of assertive color in such a way that the straight-on depiction of her face also incorporates a side profile view of her face. Enough colors to populate a rainbow are deployed for her blouse, making this painting one of many artworks in this show that zestfully make use of bright colors.

Another well-known artist, the Pop Art-oriented Roy Lichtenstein, served as the source of inspiration for Molly Metz, who is a fourth-grader at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School. Her acrylic paint and marker "I'm So Bored" depicts a girl with this cartoon-suitable thought balloon floating above her head: "I'd rather be at a Ravens game ... I'm So Bored!"

An accompanying text explains that this student had examined Lichtenstein's paintings in a museum and then followed through on his use of tightly spaced Ben-Day dots for the figuration and vibrant primary colors that make for a portrait you can spot from across the room.

Other artists in the exhibit think in terms of sequences of images that collectively tell a story. Trisha Falcigno, a 12th grader at River Hill High School, has a sequence of four color photographs comprising the work titled "A Dancer." The first photo actually is a photo of numerous old family photos indicating that a girl's interest in dance started young. The subsequent photos are present-day images of a dancer practicing in a rehearsal studio.

Sequenced photos are deployed differently by Jessica Whitacre, an 11th grader at Howard High School. In "Mom's Tough Day," three black-and-white photographs are shot and arranged in such a way that they form a single panoramic image of a preoccupied-looking mom glumly seated at the wheel of her car. The artist's accompanying explanatory text reads in part: "The woman in the photo has a tired face that looks like she is resigned to whatever she planned on doing today. Outside it is raining to add to the gloomy and sad aspect of the photo."

Student artists discovering the world go on more than local trips to the store. Anna Meredith, a fourth-grader at Longfellow Elementary School, has a colored pencil, tempera and cut paper work titled "Seeing the Amazing Statue." Its depiction of a field trip to the Statue of Liberty uses collaged cut paper for the photo-based depiction of the statue and more painterly materials to depict the visiting students and a vigorously brushed blue sky.

Of the many additional subjects and styles included in this exhibit, one artwork that is seasonally apt is by Gabriella D'Angelo, a 12th grader at Mount Hebron High School. Her oil painting "Tempting Persephone" features a woman reaching up to pick fruit from a tree.

D'Angelo makes natural connections between the woman and the landscape. The woman's green blouse complements the tree's leaves, for example, and the woman's earth-toned skin and hair complement the ground she stands on. As the personification of spring in Greek mythology, Persephone seems right at home in this spring exhibit.

"Visual Storyteller: Narrative in Art" runs through April 26 at the Howard County Arts Council, 8510 High Ridge Road in Ellicott City. Running concurrently is "No Boundaries," an exhibit featuring adults and young people with developmental disabilities; this show is in partnership with Howard County Recreation and Parks' Department of Therapeutic Recreation and Inclusion Services. Call 410-313-2787 or go to