Thursday evening marked the 15th annual Emporia High School Student Art Show, featuring student art in metals and jewelry; drawing, painting, and graphic design; and sculpture, ceramics, and glass.
The Emporia High School library teemed with students parents, instructors, and art aficionados browsing multiple displays. When asked how pieces for the show were chosen, art teacher Grant Charpentier noted that Art Department instructors looked for “standout young talent at Emporia High School making what we feel goes above and beyond; what we think is good.”
Charpentier, who teaches ceramics, wheel throwing and glass forming, collaborates with fellow art department instructors Rebecca Hamman, metals and jewelry; Josh Pavlik, painting, 2D drawing, and graphic design; and Marck Drennan, sculpture and ceramics, in both selecting and displaying art for the annual show.
“I’m pleased with the art this year,” Charpentier continued. “Kids express themselves strongly with art. We’re seeing that especially after the pandemic.”
James Ehlers, art department chair at Emporia State University, agreed. “There’s a lot to make work about right now.”
Ehlers pointed out how rare it is for a high school to have a glass program. There are fewer than ten in the entire United States. Charpentier, who teaches glass forming, earned both his BFA and BSE degrees at Emporia State, as well as a Masters in Education and Administration. He was a student under Ehlers at ESU.
“Having a strong art program is a great opportunity for students to just migrate over from high school to university, right here in town,” Charpentier noted.
Rebecca Hamman teaches metals and jewelry. She noted the pride students take when their art is on display. “I love seeing the looks on their faces when they’re showing their art to their parents. They truly appreciate the fact that they have followed through to see their pieces come to fruition.”
Junior Darby Hauff is one of Hamman’s students who spent 12 weeks creating her hummingbird ring using the wax casting technique.
“I really like trying new things. I wanted to capture the summer feel of hummingbirds and flowers. I liked watching it build.”
“It’s an opportunity to have a creative outlet, to keep their hands busy,” said Josh Pavlik, who teaches 2D drawing, painting, and graphic design. “It’s such a relief to no longer be conducting classes online. The students need the hands-on experience to grow creatively.”
Two of Pavlik’s students were Scholastic Key winners in the statewide Kansas art competition this year. Ava Karcher was awarded a Gold Key and Chloe Stanley won a Silver Key.
Another student artist, Hope East, showed her drawings on display to her older sister Hailey East. Hailey also participated in the annual student art show when she attended Emporia High School.
Kaila Mock, owner of Trox Gallery and Gifts in downtown Emporia, said, “I’m continually impressed by the caliber of work these students put out. I love the diverse mediums.”
Mock also graduated from Emporia High and studied art at ESU.
“One of my students, Willow McGuire, made many angry birds,” Charpentier said, “and we’re showcasing all of them. They are so authentic, so profound, and she is so intentional in her actions.
“Children are the best artists,” Charpentier mused. “They create fearlessly.”