Most artists wait years for their work to be professionally shown inside of a gallery.
But for high school students in Washington County, their work is being showcased at the Kathrin Cawein Gallery of Art on Pacific University's Forest Grove campus. The Regional High School Juried show features about 40 pieces made by Glencoe, Forest Grove and Century High School students.
Gallery director and art professor Tyler Brumfield said he and his colleagues looked at about 150 pieces before settling on 40. The pieces include drawings, paintings and ceramic sculptures.
"It's an open call, and we really didn't have a theme," explained Brumfield. "We were just looking for creativity and artistic prowess, I suppose."
His colleagues also looked for technical excellence between pieces. Inside the gallery, people can see black and white sketches along with splattered paintings lighting up the room.
Brumfield said it wasn't easy to pick which pieces to highlight and what other works should be let go. He remembers debating for long hours with colleagues about the final show.
"It's fun, but pretty grueling," he added.
Before deciding, the group looked at over 100 digital images of each piece to narrow down the artwork.
Brumfield was impressed with the amount of great work submitted by the students.
"We have 150 pieces from just three schools," said Brumfield, who reached out to 11 schools across the county. "Can you imagine if we would have had all of them? It would have been so much work."
It took about a year for staff at Pacific to organize the show. Along with the gallery, the school held a reception on March 2 and invited high school and college students to attend.
That's where 17-year-old Forest Grove High School student Ellie Raetzman was seen taking a photo next to her piece featured in the show.
Raetzman's piece "Serene Mountain Scene" is a charcoal drawing depicting a calm landscape with mountains in the distance and enlarged daisies at the forefront.
"I had a choice between doing a portrait or landscape, and I wanted to do something relaxing because the last art project I had to do was really stressful," recalled Raetzman. She originally drew the piece as a school project until her teacher suggested she enter the show.
"It was kind of surprising," added Raetzman. "Because I am going to be honest, I entered it last minute, because I wasn't really sure I wanted to do that."
Raetzman first started practicing art during her first year of high school. After seeing people stop and look at her drawing, she said the show gave her the validation to finally see herself as an artist.
When asked what advice she has for younger artists, Raetzman said, "Jump out of your comfort zone, and do that even though something seems super hard at first, just do it. Because you're going to learn things, make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. That's the important part of it."
For Brumfield, Raetman's response may as well be music to his ears. He hopes this experience teaches aspiring artists what it takes to show their work in professional galleries.
"If you're trying to show your work (in) different places, this is pretty much the standard way things work," he said. "And the idea of keep making work. You have a show right now, but you might have another one next month where you may be able to show the same thing."
Brumfield's goal is to also reach out to high school students in the area as much as possible as Pacific University's gallery director. Without many galleries in Forest Grove, he wants the university to be a place people feel comfortable showing off their work.
"The university is a cultural hub and a kind a center for art in the area," said Brumfield. "It's important that we're good stewards of the space and just involved with local high schools and the community at large."
As part of the show, four students will receive awards for extraordinary work. People can see the Regional High School Juried show through March 21.
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