Young artists from Salem High School’s (SHS) Visual and Performing Arts Academy showcased their works in a three week exhibit titled “Spectrum.” The second annual exhibit of its type, student pieces were displayed throughout the campus of Old Dominion University’s Virginia Beach Higher Education Center from Jan. 30 to Feb. 22. The exhibit was sponsored by the Virginia Beach City Public Schools in partnership with ODU.
Friends, family and art enthusiasts gathered on Thursday Feb. 20 to celebrate “Spectrum” with a closing reception.
Erin Richburg, Old Dominion University alumni, lead teacher for the Visual and Performing Arts Academy and “Teacher of the Year” at SHS also lead “Spectrum” as guest alumni, artist and educator.
The pieces in “Spectrum” covered a wide range of mediums, including watercolor, printmaking and ceramics. Like the mediums, the theme was also broad and up to interpretation.
“The students themselves came up with the theme.
‘We actually went through a whole process where they did idea generations. What could we possibly call our show as a conglomeration of everything that we’ve done,” Richburg said. “Then they [the students]…came down and broke it [the theme] down into what they really wanted.”
Lizzy Cox, a Senior, spoke about what the theme meant to her.
“It [the theme] was a broad…overview of everything we’ve learned over the past few years and all the talents that everyone has in the academy.”
Audrey Crist, also a Senior, explained her piece in which she integrated a live model. Her work was inspired by her mother who suffers from fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes wide-spread pain throughout the body.
“I decided to make it [the piece] wearable art so that way my model wearing it actually feels…what fibromyalgia is without being in complete plain,” Crist said. “I wanted to artistically interpret this piece to bring awareness to the fact that not many people know about it and…those who know about it can’t recognize it from someone who has it.”
Richburg explained why she has enjoyed the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center as a space to display her students’ work.
“It’s nice because it’s not a traditional white-walled gallery space for them, and so they have to deal with some of the problems. It also gives them some freedom because we wouldn’t have been able to hang some of this [art] in the manner that we have hung it in a space where it was more traditional,” Richburg said. “It’s really nice to have the opportunity for them to be able to be a little bit more… expressive with how they want to show their work.”
As the students graduate from Salem in June and move on to pursue future opportunities, Richburg expressed her pride for them and their artwork in this final show.
“I’m really proud of them, honestly. This [exhibit] was a huge undertaking and over the course of four years, they’ve gone through quite a bit…and I’m just proud of them for sticking with it.”
By Veronica Singer