The in-person exhibition is scheduled for Bedford High School on Friday (May 6) from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sean Hagan, program director for art in the Bedford schools, said every student taking an art class – all of kindergarten through grade 9 plus high school electives – will be represented in the gallery. He stated, “We are all very excited about being back in a live situation — this is our performance.”
Based on pre-pandemic patterns, “we get about 2,000 people over the course of three days,” said Hagan, who is in his seventh year. “It’s a nice reminder that people do value the arts that we have in Bedford.”
Bedford’s top school leaders, both artists, welcome the return of the in-person exhibition.
“We are very excited to have the art show back in person and to have students and families enjoy strolling the galleries of student artwork,” said Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad, who began his education career as an art teacher. “Thank you to all of the teachers for putting the show together and to all of the families for joining us.”
School Committee Chair Sarah Scoville, also an art educator, observed, “It is very important to view art in real life. The texture of the ceramics or the layers in a painting cannot be conveyed through an image on a computer. The confidence and pride of the students to be able to show their work is also a priority. I’m excited to see all the students’ artwork from across the district!”
Displays of student work will adorn the first-floor hallways throughout the high school, and Hagan commented that “it’s really nice to see the progression through the grades.” It’s a “spiraling curriculum, so you will see a lot of the same media throughout the show – ceramics, painting, and drawing, digital art in the middle and high schools, and photography, especially in the high school.”
Culminating the exhibition is what Hagan calls the “capstone” of the event: the senior art exhibit. Each senior displays five to 10 pieces in a personalized mini-exhibit, featuring an artist’s statement. “It’s really quite amazing,” Hagan said. The senior artists will be on hand; student musicians will play during a Friday might reception (it was decided to stay careful and omit food).
Visitors spend an average of more than an hour at the show, Hagan said. “A lot people come specifically to see their own child’s work. Then they continue, and all the kids get excited.”
Last year’s show, forced online by the pandemic, can still be viewed on the Art Department website, Hagan noted. “That was a Herculean undertaking,” he said, recalling the effort to photograph and upload every entry from the students.
“We made the best of it, but you can’t take the place of an in-person show for looking at a piece of art work,” he asserted.
“The staff has been fantastic,” Hagan said of the district’s art teachers. “They really should be in the spotlight for the last two years in terms of being very flexible in getting artwork out to the public.”
“I have been in and out of the Lane School art room over the last couple of months as Jen Ferrari has been facilitating the preparation of the students for the art show,” Scoville related. “One particular piece I’m excited to see in real life is a fibers project that several fourth-grade boys have been collaborating on.
“They have knit together a long rainbow of yarn that they are hoping will be displayed as a continuous piece that will run up and down the hallways at BHS,” she said. “Mrs. Ferrari uses the Teaching for Artistic Behavior approach to introduce art making to her students. She introduces several different medium stations in the art studio/classroom and allows the students to choose.”
Any monetary donations will go toward defraying the cost of the event, as well as scholarship awards for students. “I donate some of my own work to sell,” Hagan added.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763