CULTURE- ART FEATURE- Young at art: High school show is go


You know those ubiquitous grocery store plastic bags? The ones that clog both drains and the digestive tracts of sea turtles? Well, St. Anne's-Belfield student Kitty Buchanan-Watson has a recycling solution: turn them into wearable art! In her innovative creation "Paper or Plastic," hundreds of lowly tan and navy Kroger bags become a tutu-like cocktail dress.

Buchanan-Watson's whimsical piece is on view at the McGuffey Art Center as part of the "Annual High School Art Show," which also includes ceramics, painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, metalwork, and collage. The samples from St. Anne's Belfield's Project Runway-inspired challenge reflect the overall spirit of the exhibition: unabashed fun combined with an openness to exploring technique. 

Marie Arlet, whose red and black sales-tag dress, "Sold," is also among wearable art offerings, is a veritable poster child for this approach. (Given the high school tendency to label classmates as "the jock" or "the brain," I suspect Arlet is "the artist" in her class.) Arlet's tactilely inviting vase of opalescent pale aqua earthenware studded with scattered red globules is an exhibition standout. But she also paints! Her large acrylic "Self Portrait" uses humorous Post-it notes to capture the scary-exciting-mundane transition from wide-eyed child to almost-adult. In all her pieces, Arlet displays a willingness to experiment with composition, content, and palette.

Julia Wilson's digital photographic montage "Kingstreet" is another piece that thrills with its technical adventurousness. Wilson works over an antique photo of a street scene using fragments of contemporary photographs like paint to add color to buildings and the pavement. Modern snapshots become fluttering banners over the street, and lines and shapes take on new interest under Wilson's restrained hand. Although the text "Kingstreet as life." at the top right detracts slightly from the visual impact, Wilson's image is so strong it easily overcomes that minor lapse. 

Other highlights of the show include Paige Sanford's squat earthenware vessel featuring a gorgeous mottled green glaze, and Kaitlin Beverly's multi-dimensional collage, "Cherry Avenue," that fuses painting and found imagery. Many of the pieces in this year's exhibition are attention-grabbers, so it's easy to miss Christopher Lam's and Landon Fields' small watercolor abstracts entitled "Isolation" and "Nowhere to Hide," respectively. Though quiet, both paintings display beautiful movement and reflect an awareness of line and color.

If you're feeling jaded about the world, the High School Art Show offers a visual jolt of reassurance that fresh minds always find new creative directions.

The Annual High School Art Show is on view at the McGuffey Art Center through April 27. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.