“Exhibit 15” Features High School Artists from Five Local High Schools at Bedford Town Hall ~ March 7-14


By Martin Renzhofer

A member of the Bedford High School Art Club, Lily Barsam-Thompson works on her portrait of author Sandra Cisneros destined to join other artist murals in the BHS Library. The Art Club’s mission is to help beautify the school and community – Image (c) Sean Hagan, 2019 all rights reserved – Click to view larger image

Lily Barsam-Thompson has been painting for about a year.

The sophomore at Bedford High prefers working in acrylics. This type of paint allows her the chance to build layers, to create different textures.

“I don’t want to blend everything in perfectly,” Barsam-Thompson said. “It might look realistic but I can already see that. I want to make it different. If I see technique, it makes [the picture] more interesting.”

Barsam-Thompson’s mural of author Sandra Cisneros was chosen, along with 14 other Bedford High student art projects, as an entry to Exhibit 15, an art show scheduled to open March 7 through 14 in the Reed Room of the Bedford Town Hall.

Also representing Bedford High are Rachel Klein, Cullen Calhoun, Jeremiah Dotson, Maddie Cohen, Maxwell Goldman, Michelle Voong, Daiya Ogata, Michael Gillespie, YiChen Li, Aidan Crotty, Roman Dello, Mackenzie Young, Katie Kranz, and Karin Koga.

Bedford will not be the only high school represented at Exhibit 15 as artists from Burlington, Lexington, Weston, and Winchester have also been invited, making about 75 works in ceramics, sculpture, photography, drawing, painting, and the digital arts. Click this link to view/print/download the poster for EXHIBIT15

Area professional artists and educators will serve as jurors to  determine work that is best in each category as well as the best in the show. A reception is planned for 5:30 pm on March 11. Exhibit hours are 8 am to 4 pm, excepting March 8 when doors close at 1 pm.

It is hoped that the exhibit will become an annual event that, according to Sean Hagan, Bedford’s K-12 Program Director of Visual Art, will also grow in size. Not, however, so big that the number of entries dwarfs the exhibit’s intent.

“This is a much more exclusive show,” Hagan said. “The students are tremendous. They put in a lot of pride in their work and put in a lot of time.”

The exhibit’s name comes from the limit of students entered from each school – 15. What’s more, the setting of the Reed Room gives the show the feel of a true gallery.

“It’s a cavernous space,” Hagan said, adding that Bedford Town Manager Sarah Stanton’s assistance was invaluable. “It feels like a museum when you walk in. Lots of time these kinds of exhibits feel tight because of space.

“We hope the kids are excited about it. This is the best of the best.”

Stanton said the exhibit was a good opportunity to use the room. “It’s a great idea,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

The initial idea for Exhibit 15 came about through a series of serendipitous meetings and conversations. Hagan, who has a background in animation, oversees four Bedford schools and eight staff members, while also teaching at Bedford High. During a parent-teacher meeting, he began talking with Marc Holland, who has two children in the Bedford school system and is also a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Holland was interested in a forum that would recognize student art.

“It was weird how it came together,” Hagan said. “He was a parent in the front row and was asking questions about the art program. More questions than I was used to.”

About at the same time, Hagan and other school art directors, including George Ratkevitch of Burlington, were also wondering about how they could promote the arts in their respective towns.

“[George] and I started talking about how to make our own departments better and how we could come together as a community. How do we showcase our students’ work? “We didn’t think we could pull it off.” The Bedford faculty was also open to the idea and now, a year later, the idea has blossomed into reality. Hagan and the other art directors had the unenviable task of choosing from a year’s worth of work, culling down selections to 15.

“We had a luxury of too much,” Hagan said. “I felt like it gave us more of a varsity.”

Exhibit 15 also places these high school artists in the unpleasant position of being judged. Art taste, of course, is subjective. “I was a little nervous, but it’s mostly exciting,” Barsam-Thompson said. “I enjoy seeing other people’s art, too, seeing mine next to others. It is interesting to see their perspective.” Barsam-Thompson chose to paint a mural of Cisneros because of how she was touched by the author’s book, The House on Mango Street, which was published in 1984 and was written from the perspective of a teenage Latina.

“What I like about Bedford High’s art department, [Hagan] gives students a lot of opportunity to make art for the school.”

In turn, Hagan relishes the opportunity to give the artists under his umbrella the chance to express themselves.

“We wanted to create a show that was more intimate,” he said. “It is also a way to bring communities together.”

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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