More than 200 excited art enthusiasts swarmed the opening reception of the seventh Artists on the Rise exhibit March 9 at the Montpelier Arts Center, where nearly 60 impressive artworks by teen artists (ages 13-18) attending public, private or home school in the D.C. metro area were unveiled.
The exhibit is designed to honor National Youth Art Month, a celebration of visual art education administered by The Council for Art Education. The Montpelier Arts Center sponsors the show and awards first-, second- and third-place prizes for the best artwork submitted to an open call by the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation.
Names of the prize winners and honorable mentions are kept under wraps until the opening reception, and many hopeful emerging artists, along with family and friends, came to see their work professionally displayed on Saturday, March 9.
Proud teachers, a high school principal and Parks and Recreation staff were also on board.
The works were juried by Montpelier Arts Center resident printmaker and multi-media artist Julie Polt, who said the exhibit received almost 200 online submissions. Of those, 69 were selected for inclusion and almost 60 were delivered to the center for display.
After the attendees had a chance to enjoy refreshments, explore the show and mingle, Polt explained the criteria she used to jury the work; each submission was judged on message, technical use of the media and expressiveness.
Center Director Elizabeth Crisman announced the winners: First Place, $200, to “Machismo” by Helen Qian; Second Place, $150, to “Pernicious” by Yuri Yi and Third Place, $100, to “Irregularity” by Anna Lussier.
Honorable mentions went to “Tangled” by Claire Yang, “Scrunchie” by Chaisson Catalon, “Self-Portrait with a Stuffed Cat Doll” by Teresa Digrazia and “Carmine” by Olivia Blackwell.
Arts and Cultural Heritage Division visual arts specialist Stuart Diekmeyer invited the young artists to apply to a Black History Month Poster internship.
The National Youth Art Month theme this year is “Your Art, Your Story” and though the Montpelier Arts Center exhibit is not limited to self-portraits, self-portraits were popular entries.
Oil, acrylic, pastel, charcoal, graphite, pencil, tempera, collage, mixed media, watercolor, pen and ink, photography and digital software are among the media used to create the unique compositions.
At the discretion of the artists, some can be purchased; prices range from about $75-$1,000.
Sonya Kitchens, countywide arts coordinator for the Department of Parks and Recreation, started the exhibit seven years ago. She said the artists set their own prices and the show has no sponsors other than support from the Maryland State Arts Council for Montpelier Arts Center programs.
Many schools were represented by fresh young faces.
Mary Ma, 15, Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, said she was encouraged by art teacher Katherine Stanton to enter “Aphrodite,” which she is selling for $200.
An art teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Greenbelt, Monique Connealy, said some of her students have sold work at previous exhibits. This year, art by Michelle Juarez Sanchez, Victoria Lewis and Tre Freeland made the exhibit.
“The kids in this show are all in my AP [advanced placement] studio art class; I’m very proud of them,” Connealy said.
Lewis, 17, mentioned that she has art displayed on Instagram and said her favorite artist is Chris Hong, an animator based in Ontario.
Freeland, 18, plans to attend an art program at The Cooper Union in New York City after he graduates. To create “Free Land,” he said he imported a drawing into Adobe Photoshop and created dozens of layers while exploring color and form. More of his art can be seen online.
A student at Winston Churchill High School, Potomac, Chaisson Catalon, 17, said “Scrunchie” — the self-portrait in pastel that received an honorable mention — is not for sale. She’s currently exploring art schools to train as an illustrator/animator and was pleased to be recognized.
Third Place winner Anna Lussier, 18, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Olney, said she sold an earlier acrylic work, “Self Portrait,” for $250 at last year’s exhibit. Her prize-winning piece on display, “Irregularity,” is a surreal acrylic work priced at $550.
She plans to double major in neuroscience and studio art at one of two universities where she said she’s been accepted with scholarships.
Camille Burrell, 18, Charles Herbert Flowers High School, Springdale, said “Sinking in Darkness” is a self-portrait. Her mom, Linda Burrell-Warr, said Camille has shown a natural ability since she could hold a crayon; she would sit in her mother’s lap and draw as a toddler.
Camille wants to become an art educator and plans to train at the Delaware College of Art and Design.
Kelly-Anne Wilson, 17, Suitland High School, loves renaissance and medieval art. She said creating “The Gift That Gives” took a little over a month in Michael Burroughs’ art class.
The principal of International High School, Langley Park, Carlos Beato said it was “extremely exciting” to see some of his students (six submitted work) “realize their dream of becoming an artist.”
Most are seniors on their way to college and “this is a great stepping stone for them,” he said.
Diego Benitez, 17, a sophomore at International, said he painted “Warm Winter” before he’d ever experienced snow because he was curious about it. Benitez lived in El Salvador, where he created the piece at an art center, until four years ago. A current teacher, Andrea Garcia, encouraged him to submit “Warm Winter.”
Benitez wants to be an architect or an art educator. And real snow, he said, is “awesome.”
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Katya Miranda G., 18, also attends International High School. She plans to study fine art and psychology and wants to be an art therapist. She is pleased to have “Who are You?” in the exhibit.
“I feel very proud; this is the first time submitting my art and just the beginning for me,” she said.
Polt said she enjoyed her role as juror.
“This artwork is incredible,” she said. “I hope participating in this show has encouraged the artists to continue their artmaking journey.”
The “Seventh Annual Artists on the Rise” exhibit continues through March 31 at Montpelier Arts Center, 9652 Muirkirk Road, and coincides with the “50th Annual Laurel Art Guild Juried Exhibition”( showing the work of artists over 18) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission to the exhibits is free. For more information, call 301-377-7800 or 410-792-0664.