A Watertown High School art class and a local art gallery will team up to give the students an unusual experience for artists their age – their very own art exhibition.
Starting on Feb. 4, ROOM 83 Spring will host the exhibit of works created by the advanced art class at the high school.
WHS art teacher Donna Calleja and her class has visited the gallery run by Ellen Wineberg and Cathleen Daley on Spring Street, and they decided to take it a step further.
“I’ve been taking the class over there the last year-and-a-half, and last spring (Ellen and Cathleen) said why don’t we see how we can host a high school exhibit,” Calleja said. “I said, that would be fabulous.”
Wineberg and Daley said the exhibition also works well with the mission of their gallery.
“The collaboration is in sync with ROOM’s inclusive and community-minded mission – ‘arts without exception,'” they said.
The students, too, were excited about the prospect of having their works shown. Each student will have at least one piece, and some will have multiple works in the show.
“Over the past couple years I have developed a huge passion for the arts,” said senior Dominika Bondaryk. “When (Calleja) told us we will have a show, it is something I never thought I would be capable of doing – me and my classmates.”
ROOM’s exhibits are based on themes, and the owners and Cajella decided that an exhibit called “Here I Am: Self & Selfie,” featuring self portraits in the age of the selfie, would be a great fit for the class.
“For hundreds of years artists have done self portraits, but with the advent of iPhones and smartphones and all of those anyone can make a self portrait, or selfie,” Calleja said. “I usually give a self portrait assignment, so it fit.”
The students will really get the experience of putting on an exhibition, Wineberg and Daley said in an email interview.
“They’ve had a taste of the process artists go through preparing for and exhibiting their work in a professional venue,” they said. “They’ve immersed themselves in a concept (Self & Selfie), produced a cohesive body of work exploring that theme, kept a journal, given oral presentations, and written artists’ statements.”
WHS senior Julia Harrington said working with professional artists has been reassuring.
“It is nice for me to know the way they approach it is similar to the way we learned, and that the way Mrs. Calleja taught us is similar to the real world,” Harrington said.
This fall, Wineberg and Daley came into the WHS art classroom to look at the students’ work and critique them.
WHS student Noah Prior said he was nervous to have professional artists come in and look at his work, but he said they were approachable and helpful.
The chance to have her work shown is something that WHS senior Zoie Blëau never thought would happen.
“I have (attended) a few different schools and is exciting coming here, as someone who enjoys art, and I got the opportunity that not a lot of schools get,” Blëau said.
The show, “Here I Am: Self & Selfie” runs from Feb. 4 to 25 at ROOM 83 Spring, at 83 Spring St. in Watertown. A reception will be held Saturday, Feb. 6 from 3-5 p.m. The gallery is open Thursdays 3-7 p.m. and Saturdays 1-4 p.m. or by appointment. Find out more about the gallery at www.room83spring.com