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Attendees view student artwork at the annual Art Exposed art show on the second floor of the Shaker Heights Public Library on Lee Road May 6.

Attendees view student artwork at the annual Art Exposed art show on the second floor of the Shaker Heights Public Library on Lee Road May 6.

Rowan Gingerich

Rowan Gingerich

Attendees view student artwork at the annual Art Exposed art show on the second floor of the Shaker Heights Public Library on Lee Road May 6.

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If the Cleveland Museum of Art is too far away, the Shaker Public Library could be the substitute gallery you never knew existed.

The seventh annual Art Exposed art show opening reception was held at the Shaker Heights Public Library on May 6 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The artwork will be displayed through May 26.

The event is “the culmination of all of the artwork done this year at the high school,” Art Exploration and Honors Drawing teacher Kristina Walter said.

“It’s an expedition of visual art students’ work,” eighth grade art teacher Adrienne Richard Casselberry said. This year, the exhibit included a section in which pieces from the middle school are displayed.“This is the first year that the middle school is a part of it, so, it’s a great honor to recognize our middle school,” she said.

The art teachers spend the whole year selecting pieces to be featured in the show. “I work along the way,” Walter said. “So, every assignment that I have, I set aside sort of the top portion of the assignment. So, the ones that I felt like worked out the best. Then, I take all of that artwork and I kind of put it together and set it up and mat it and I bring it here and try to figure out what can fit. And then I kind of make choices based on the amount of space that I have.”

“I like the process of seeing my stuff up in a public place,” senior Veronica Jones said. “And also in a community type thing where I know the people looking at it and stuff. It’s nice. I just like the process of figuring out what pieces to put up.”

“I think time is a big factor,” Richard Casselberry said. “It was hard because I wanted to put them all. But ones that won awards made it easier and pieces that were put in our school’s art show made it easier.”

The event began with an awards ceremony. The art faculty took turns announcing first, second and third place award winners for students in each of their art courses, along with a few names listed as honorable mentions. “I wasn’t expecting to get an award,” Senior Portfolio second place winner Hannah Ruhoff said.“When they called my name for second place I was like, ‘Wait, what? What just happened?’ I didn’t know it was going to happen so I was like, ‘OK, that’s cool.’”

After awards, the attendees ascended to the library’s second floor to browse the exhibit and enjoy refreshments for the remainder of the evening. There was a separate room in which two students were selling jewelry made by students in the class. “It’s very nice, well put together,” Marcia Murphy said. “I just like the way they have everything set up, up here, displaying all the students’ work.”

The walls were separated into sections that featured artwork from every course at the high school. “Each curriculum is represented,” Walter said. “So, Jewelry, Graphic Design, Drawing, Painting, all of those. You can see a little bit of everything.”

“The seniors get the biggest amount of space,” Walter said. “And they each come up with their own idea for a portfolio and they do different pieces around a certain theme that they pick. So, they have, kind of,  the most freedom. And also, they’ve spent the most time. So, they’ve gone through four years of art.”

According to Murphy, all of the pieces are “unique in their own way. And the way the artist sees it is very deep. It’s really nice”

The art show is a way students and teachers can reflect on their year in art. “Art show time is my favorite time of year because sometimes, and I was telling my drawing classes this earlier, that sometimes I get a little discouraged because I feel like I haven’t done enough with my students,” Walter said. “And then I start to pull pieces for the art show, and I start to collect the artwork and I realize that actually, we’ve done a lot of really good work and my students are extremely talented and they’ve made some great things. So, it’s really encouraging for me to see, like, it’s a very big feeling of satisfaction to see all the work matted and hung and framed.”

“I think my favorite part was seeing all the other classes’ work,” Ruhoff said.

Richard Casselberry’s favorite part of the evening was “just having time to see the exhibit and talk with the artists,” she said.

Walter has had students featured in the art show for six years. According to her, the turnout this year was slightly smaller than in previous years. “I think it’s been more crowded other years, in terms of tonight,” she said. “But the show is up for three weeks so people can go see it as long as they want, or whenever library hours are open, I should say.”

In the end, participants and attendees consider this year’s show a success. “There are so many people,” Murphy said. “It was a big turnout.”

In future art shows, Walter hopes the process will continue to educate and motivate students. “I guess I hope that they continue to involve students and that students continue to feel really proud of their work in the art shows and that regardless of any career that student choose, that they learn life skills from this,” she said. “So, for instance, the skill of follow-through, finishing a piece of work. Sometimes it’s a struggle but I’m really proud of people who finish because it shows their character; it shows that they are able to be persistent even if something is difficult. And I think the art show is a time when that really happens because it’s very stressful. The seniors are under a lot of pressure and they all have to bring their work and they have to set it up themselves. And, so, there’s a lot of, kind of, frantic energy.”

Art is a large part of Shaker’s identity and it is important to a lot a students and teachers. Jones feels art is about “sending messages and stuff, in an accessible way,” she said. “Because anyone could look at art but not everyone can read an intellectual essay.”

“I guess, at its most basic level, art is communication and expression,” Walter said. “And so, with anything that you’re making, you have a creator and you have an audience. And it’s a way to communicate an idea with an audience. I think for a lot of people, too, it can be meditation or some sort of creative release, and I know it definitely does that for me. I really enjoy making art.”

“Art means so many things,” Richard Casselberry said. “Self expression, creativity, therapy, that’s probably the big one, communication and growth, personal growth. It’s kind of hard to give it one definition but I think it embodies all of that.”

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