Mental health expressed via Clackamas County student artists
Artwork from 107 middle and high school students representing school districts throughout Clackamas County is now virtually on display in the fifth-annual Clackamas Education Service District Regional Art Show.
Normally held in person and open to the public, the show moved online again this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"While the challenges presented by the pandemic have been daunting, many students have been able to use art as an outlet, and the samples of their work in this year's art show are stunning," said Jada Rupley, Clackamas ESD superintendent. "It's so inspiring to see such talent, nurtured by our region's art teachers, on display."
North Clackamas senior Adilee Holmes is featured in the show for a mixed-media piece titled "Reaching Out," which shows a mirrored figured in sepia tones with a horrified expression reaching out to its twin figure in full color with a much more hopeful expression.
"This piece is about finding yourself and realizing self-worth," Holmes said. "It's easy to become trapped in the dark forest of your mind and surround yourself with negative thoughts, which is why it's so important to look at yourself and realize that you're magical."
Lake Oswego senior Tab Daniels also confronted issues of mental health using mixed media. Daniels said the portrait titled "Stressed" is "meant to represent the feelings of being overwhelmed, with staggered and scratched lines to show the feelings of anxiety."
Oregon City eighth-grader Maxx Sell created a digital image that paraphrased a line from Madeline Miller's popular novel "Song of Achilles" about the "greater grief" in being "left alone when another is gone."
Gladstone High School freshman Abigail (Marie) Humphrey drew "Sweetpea" to represent feelings of sadness and worthlessness.
"SweetPea acts like me, but me at the scariest and saddest points of my life," Humphrey said. "I constantly fill him with anger, with line of my own sadness. I'm sorry, SweetPea."
School district art teachers personally curated and selected student work to be entered in the show, a task full of even more steps in this year's distance learning environment. The 2021 art show encompasses a range of media, including painting, drawing, photography, digital art and ceramics. The full gallery is available online at clackesd.org/2021-clackamas-esd-regional-art-show-virtual-gallery.
Presented with support from Pacific Northwest College of Art, One River School and Clackamas Community College, art show entries are being adjudicated by a panel of art professionals, and grade-level awards will be presented in a Facebook Live event Tuesday, April 27, at 5 p.m. Award winners will receive prizes ranging from free art classes to art scholarships.
"We are doubly grateful this year to everyone who has helped us create a wonderful virtual event — our dedicated regional art teachers, our volunteer judges, our generous sponsors and, of course, our talented students," Rupley said. "In a year that has brought so much pain to our communities, it is incredibly meaningful to celebrate the work of students, and honor the emotions and experiences they are revealing through their art."
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