Northern Arizona University’s Beasley Gallery is again showcasing a group of artists that you don’t see in many art galleries: high school students.
This is the second year the gallery has invited high schools from around northern Arizona to showcase their students' work at NAU, said Christopher Kane Taylor, the gallery’s curator. This year’s lineup of schools includes Coconino High School, Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy, Mingus High School and Camp Verde High School.
Ben Proctor, the department chair of the Fine Arts Program at Coconino High School, said the show is a chance for students to get experience showing their work in a real gallery. It gives them the experience that a professional artist would have and gets them thinking about their work.
The school has artwork from about 25 CHS students in the gallery this year, Proctor said. The artwork includes drawings, paintings, ceramics and some mixed media pieces.
Brandon Champagne is one CHS senior whose work is displayed in the gallery. One of his favorites is a grey stencil of a skull with horns painted on a wooden board. Red paint on the board around the skull stencil brings out some of the woodgrain.
“I think it’s really cool to have something hanging in here,” he said. He definitely plans to continue his artwork next year when he’s taking classes at Coconino Community College and NAU. He’s hoping to work as a commission artist.
Proctor said there are also two collaborative artworks in the gallery that were made by a group of students working together.
The first collaborative piece is based off of Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell’s soup can paintings. The students studied Warhol’s work and his reasoning behind the soup can paintings. The individual students reproduced the work with their own twist on the soupy subject.
The other collaborative CHS piece in the gallery is a line of portraits of various famous artists including Warhol, Dali, Monet and others. The idea behind the individual portraits was to put the artists at the table like in Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
The show helps both high school and the university’s students, he said. It gives the university’s art education students a chance to see what high school teachers are working on with their students.
It also gives some of NAU’s art majors a chance to design, layout and create displays for a gallery, Taylor said.
At the high school level, it really encourages high school students to think of art as a possible profession, he said.
Taylor said he always leaves it up to the individual high school teachers to determine what student art they want to display in the gallery.
“They know their students better than I do,” he said.
He also opened the show up to more schools this year than he invited last year, but only four schools were able to make it this year, he said. Northern Arizona is very rural and the distance to drive to Flagstaff can be daunting. However, he plans to extend the same offer again next year and add even more schools to the list. He hopes to one day fill the show with art from every high school in northern Arizona.