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By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

Glasgow Student Art To Go On Exhibit

Show to Open Friday, Run Through the Month


February 5, 2020

Libby Weber / For the Courier

Bridger Wesely paints a colorful frog painting in the GMS Art 6 class taught by Libby Weber. Also pictured facing the camera are Trevor Nix (back left), Jourdyn Fercho (middle left) and Brynn Donaldson (right).

The Glasgow middle and high school art classes will be putting their work on display for the people of Glasgow starting Friday, Feb. 7 at the Wheatgrass Arts & Gallery in downtown Glasgow. The exhibit will feature nearly 180 pieces from artists ranging from sixth grade to seniors and will encompass art media as varied as pencil sketches and impressionist oil paintings to sculptures and textured art as taught by Glasgow art teachers Libby Weber and Cat McIntyre.

According to McIntyre and Weber, the idea for the exhibition stemmed from a conversation the two had with the owner of WAG, Mary Fahlgren, last fall. The idea was that the artists at the schools needed to have a way to be more visible to the community.

"We really wanted a way to acknowledge them like the athletes," said McIntyre. Fahlgren agreed and offered to let the school art exhibitions be held at the WAG twice a year-once in the winter and again in June-for a month at a time. WAG will be listing some of the works for sale to the public, while others will remain in the possession of the artists when the exhibition ends.

For McIntyre and Weber, the goal is to encourage the young artists to display their work to the public, think about how to price their work and to think about how to work with galleries on exhibiting their work in the future. McIntyre explained that the first time she held a gallery exhibition was in college, so to have an opportunity to get this experience in high school or middle school is invaluable to the aspiring artists.

The key factor in putting on the exhibition though, is the visibility. The teachers are adamant about getting to show off some of the best artists in Glasgow. "I always tell my students that I get to appreciate all the art you do," said Weber, "but the next step is to get it out in the community." That goal of getting the art out into the community, married up nicely with the WAG's mission "to build community through art" and led to the implementation of the student exhibition.

The two art teachers, Weber at the middle school and McIntyre at the high school, said that in total they will be exhibiting nearly 180 pieces. There will be 120 from the middle school, where all of the attending students take art class and roughly half of that from the high school. "It's important to point out," added McIntyre, "that just because they make art it does not mean that we are exhibiting it." She said that the teachers tried to pick the art based on quality and skill. "It's important to push your students to strive for better," explained McIntyre. She added later on that, "Professionally, as an artist, it's good for the students to have to strive for something beyond just creating the work itself."

Weber said that the business side of the exhibition has also been interesting for the students. This was especially true when those who wanted to sell their work tried to value the pieces. She said they had to take into consideration a number of factors like gallery commissions, titles of the pieces and valuing their work. She added that, "Some of the kids don't place much value in the work itself," factor she tried to help the studentes overcome, while other students had no problem applying high-values to their art.

Weber also pointed out that for her students, the challenge has come from expressing themselves about their art and putting it out there for the public to experience. "Some are uncomfortable with displaying it out there in the community," said Weber, but she added that she believes the experience as a whole will be beneficial for their confidence. Both teachers pointed out that they think the public will appreciate the displays and the quality of art being exhibited.

"It's good practice," said McIntyre. "When you create art in a visual plane, part of it is how people interact with it. It will be nice to have the work up for the whole month."

According to Weber and McIntyre, the event took a lot of time to develop. The two teachers expressed excitement to be working together on the project. In fact, the development of the program and the hope of continuing it for the foreseeable future has compelled McIntyre to stay on as the art teacher at the high school to keep continuity for the program, which has seen a lot of turnover in recent years.

Art in Glasgow Schools has taken some turns over the last few years. There is no longer a dedicated art teacher at Irle School so many of the students walking into middle school have very little real art direction when Weber takes over. By the time they leave the program, though, they have worked on projects from impressionism, realism, multiple-media, sculpting, texture, oil paint, water color and pencil sketches.

"It is a lot of trying to get them up to speed," said Weber.

McIntyre added that the students have a working vocabulary in art by the time they hit the high school program, something she credited to Weber and her teaching skills. "By the time they hit high school they have a working art vocabulary and foundation in art," she said. "Then they really get to develop their style."

For Weber watching the students develop their individual styles and visions for the work is one of her favorite parts about teaching the skills. For her it is interesting to watch students who think they have no art skills develop them or for kids who are not developed at one skill find a separate media that they excel at.

Both teachers were also adamant at exposing their students to a variety of art types. Mainly the focus is getting away from realism and the idea that art needs to reflect nature or wildlife. One key focus is in abstract art. That was particularly true for Weber who said, "A lot of what we do is abstract because students get to open up about it more."

The exhibition will open on Feb. 7 with an artist reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the WAG, and the event is open to the public and refreshments will be available.


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