Art Exhibit on the Fly

by Jul 13, 2020Art & Culture, South Brunswick

When COVID-19 prevented the annual student art show at Franklin Square Gallery, Associated Artists of Southport found a creative way to display the students’ artwork.

Sixteen lucky recent high school graduates can thank COVID-19 for having their artwork displayed on panels hanging on the outside of Franklin Square Gallery and on Howe Street in Southport.

Due to the coronavirus, the gallery was closed during the time that the annual student art show was scheduled to take place, so in lieu of that, the Associated Artists of Southport donated the funds and arranged to have the seniors’ selected pieces digitized, printed and mounted on weatherproof, and virtually indestructible, panels. The panels are large – slightly bigger than 6 feet by 3 feet – and make a beautiful statement in town.

The artwork is as extraordinary as the Brunswick County Visual Arts teachers who inspired and individually encouraged each student to produce whatever would have personal meaning for them. The result is a brilliant portrayal of raw emotion and deep-seated feelings.

Ian Sands, visual arts teacher at South Brunswick High School, explained his approach. In the early classes, students are given more structured choices, then as they progress, they are given less direction and encouraged to explore more abstract concepts. Sands calls this “scaffolding.” According to his students, this approach stretched them to go beyond what they thought they could do and produce more than they thought they were capable of. Here is how some of his students described their experience.

Aidan McLaughlin, who goes by Chef, said this: “I chose to go with something along the lines of ‘How can I use colors/multiple characters to display emotions/certain feelings?’ I feel this is portrayed in most of my pieces, but in the one on display at the gallery, it’s especially evident. It’s made to make you feel cluttered because you’ve got these two people sitting there with blank, somewhat stoic expressions, surrounded by endless little cartoon characters. At the time, I had a lot going on, and was feeling super cluttered, so I reflected it in my work.”

Naomi Woodell said, “When I first started, Mr. Sands wanted me to try new materials and techniques. I really dislike coming out of my comfort zone so I was unsure. He gave me charcoal pencils and I started messing around and drew a flower, but being the person I am, I flew back into my comfort zone and digitally edited it in Photoshop. My picture portrays new beginnings and it shows me that I can try something new even if I have to come out of my comfort zone.”

Autumn Aughtry’s piece “Cherry Scented Bubbles” won Best in Show at the Leland Cultural Arts Center. It portrays a flustered cat in a cherry patterned dress. A visitor to Franklin Square Gallery stopped to look at it and said, “That cat doesn’t know whether she is coming or going; one foot points to the front and the other one points to the back.”

All of the students were thrilled to have their work displayed at the prestigious Franklin Square Gallery. As Kelsey Willis put it, “This opportunity is really cool and it makes my last year at South Brunswick High School even more special.”

The students’ paintings will be displayed outside at Franklin Square Gallery for the month of July. And don’t miss the two on Howe Street on your way to the gallery.


Want to go?

Franklin Square Gallery
130 E. West Street, Southport
Hours are Wednesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the paintings are outside and can be viewed at any time.