It was like most gallery exhibitions you would find in cool, downtown white-walled spaces.
Art. Refreshments. Artsy discussions.
But this one was different. All of the artists featured in this exhibition were high school students. Specifically, Muncie Central High School students.
More than a dozen Muncie Central students were celebrated during the AP Art Show at the Muncie Makes Lab in downtown Muncie during First Thursday last week.
Muncie Central art teacher Carol Daugherty led the effort, which included artist statements – written by the students – and title cards for each of their pieces, which were created during this school year.
The students, she said, put in a lot of work to make the exhibition happen.
“This pushed them out of their comfort zone, which is good,” she added. “They are putting their work out there, they are talking about their work with, in some cases, total strangers. And they are taking pride in what they have created.”
And let’s just say these students – er, artists – pulled it off.
A steady flow of visitors browsed the art and engaged the young artists in conversations about their inspirations.
Senior Daniella Martinez’s very detailed work – mostly in colored pencil – was inspired by her Hispanic heritage and immigration issues at the border. In fact, Daniella said she wants to be an immigration lawyer.
The aforementioned cool space where Daniella’s work was hanging was courtesy of Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning (CAP), which manages Muncie Makes.
Daugherty met Janice Shimizu, an Assistant Professor of Architecture in CAP and a partner at Shimizu + Coggeshall Architects. Shimizu told her about the Muncie Makes space downtown and offered her and her students the space.
“This is a great way for students to see themselves in other ways,” Shimizu said. “As real artists, in a real exhibit.”
Shimizu said she was blown away by the talent on display. And she wasn’t alone.
Professional artist Quincy Ewing said he was very impressed with the exhibition. OK, he might be a little biased. He is the father of La’Saiha Ewing, whose 3-D art was on display on the second floor.
“I have tried to get her interested in art for years,” he said with a smile as he stood on front of her large “My Dear Lady” piece, a woman’s torso with the area of the womb replaced with a gaping mouth.
It was a 3-D art class at Central that eventually sparked her artistic interest.
“I am so proud of her,” her dad said. “And I am really excited about her future.”
Standing in front of her creations, La’Saiha said she, too, felt like a “proud parent.”
Her work, she said, focuses on the objectification of women – and “women who have so much to say but can’t say it.”
She said she holds each piece close before it’s completed and can feel all the love inside it. “I know I am not going to stop now,” she said. “I can’t.”
And they will have some motivation along the way. There were journals positioned in front of their artwork and visitors were asked to write encouraging messages to the artists.
The journals, Daugherty said, will hopefully help these artists when they are blocked, or not feeling motivated. “It will help them push through,” Daugherty said.
Students showcased: La’Saiha Ewing, Avery Clark, Maya Coggeshall, Alokayd Cooper, Waverley Daugherty, Jalena Kelley, Jasper Lutton, Daniella Martinez, Blue Munson, Rainn Phillips, Brianna Reider, Adam Schuler and Ja’Niya Smith.
The exhibition also included pieces by Dominick Haskins, who is student teaching at Muncie Central.
PHOTO: La’Saiha Ewing stands in front of their work at the AP Art Show.