Culture- ART FEATURE- Young sprung: High school artists wow McGuffey

High school– whether you loved it or loathed it (like me), chances are you recall at least one teacher who sparked your imagination. I suspect for many St. Anne's Belfield students, that person will be art instructor Randy Bill. 

My forecast stems from the head-turning work– both imaginative and well executed– displayed by STAB students in the annual High School Art Show, currently on view at the McGuffey Art Center. 

Overall, this year's all-media exhibition is especially strong, but the ceramic works, in particular, combine fresh visions with competent realization. A stellar example is STAB student Marie Arlet's clean-lined vase, its buff color reminiscent of a rising moon, topped by a three-disc column of scrap metal. The marriage of the materials is unexpected, but Arlet's proportional balance is precise, yielding a stunning result.

On the same pedestal, fellow STAB student Kaja Foss takes a different yet equally successful approach, using horsehair to create a burnt-in pattern on her charmingly squat white pot with lid. Paige Sanford, also at STAB, goes in still another direction with her geometric aquamarine-glazed vase crafted from slabs patterned with a relief of circles and letters (spelling "Cleveland" in reverse).

Western Albemarle High School student Walt Barber's pencil drawing, "Radishes," is another standout. Barber not only shows a mastery of anatomy in his depiction of hands clutching radishes, but he also reveals an awareness of how negative space can add impact to a composition.

Negative space also plays a role in STAB student Kitty Buchanan-Watson's ink wash of a Monitor-like lizard viewed from behind. What's appealing is the way Buchanan-Watson infuses her beast with energy by varying the watery marks used to define the different parts of its body.

Two works that successfully play with color are an oil pastel by Lafayette High School student Sloane Lyle that features a yellow-striped sky glowing beyond a late-evening landscape, and Charlottesville High School student Katie Connor's collage, "Red Tree." Connor de-contextualizes photo cutouts by arranging them on the basis of palette (close examination reveals a wall phone here and window blinds there), creating a semi-abstract landscape pulsing with life.

Finally, one of the most whimsical pieces in the show is STAB student Allyson Snyder's found-object sculpture, "All Sewn Up," with a novel use of tape measures.

Hats off to Randy Bill and the other art teachers who spur students to express themselves in such wondrous ways.

The annual High School Art Show is on exhibit in the upstairs hall gallery at the McGuffey Art Center through April 29. 201 Second St. NW. 295-7973.