Art by Soldotna High School student Chloe Jacko is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Art by Soldotna High School student Chloe Jacko is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Creating art and artists

Exhibition showcases student talent and local art programs

A spotlight on the diverse artistic work being done in local schools is this month’s exhibition at the Kenai Art Center — the 33rd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Juried Student Art Show, or “Visual Feast.” The show opens Friday and will be available for viewing through April 26.

On the walls and standing on plinths at the center are artwork of different mediums and styles. There’s photography, watercolor, drawing in color and in monochrome, acrylic painting, and a broad swath of sculpture and ceramics. There are also categories for the pieces less neatly described — “Mixed Media” and “Open.”

In each category, work will be awarded by judges Alyeska Garrett, Celia Anderson and Laura Faeo during an opening reception on Friday that runs at the center from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Awards for art by middle school students will be held at 5:30 p.m., high school students following at 6 p.m.

Represented in the show are KPBSD middle and high schools from Kenai, Soldotna, Homer and Seward.

Soldotna High School Art teachers Stephanie Cox and Chris Jenness said Wednesday that the annual show is an opportunity to showcase the work being done by talented students in local schools, and a rare chance to bring the different art programs together and see what other schools are working on.

“This is what’s going on in our classrooms,” Cox said. “It really shows how cool some of the classes are at public high school — the opportunities that are available.”

Across mediums and filling the gallery space are depictions of picturesque landscapes, intimate portraits, and handcrafted pots and mugs. There are sculptures crafted of paper rising out of or carved into books and delicate depictions of humanity and emotion all merely steps from one another.

Taken as a whole, the show is a display of not just high-quality art, but also “the different kinds of artists being created around the peninsula,” Jenness said.

“We don’t always see the work that these kids are doing.”

For the students, the show represents an experience showing off their talents publicly and professionally — in a gallery exhibition instead of on the fridge at home.

Part of that experience is hanging art for display and titling it. Most pieces don’t get that treatment, Jenness said, and it pushes the artists to dig deeper into the ideas at the heart of their work.

Chloe Jacko has two pieces in the show — and had work included last year. The first piece is a charcoal drawing of a boy reading, the second a painting done using a variation of watercolor that depicts a young girl running in front of a rainbow. Jacko said that though the latter piece looks bright and colorful it belies sadder emotions. Both explore themes of childhood innocence.

Jacko said that being selected and having work shown is valuable to students growing as artists, who will get experience sharing work on a larger stage and collect feedback. Having work shown as part of the show is “an ego boost,” a sign that their work can stand up and stand out.

“Kids my age, besides social media, we don’t have many other places to go show art,” Jacko said. “Having that confidence boost, being chosen to do it, can really encourage kids to continue doing art.”

Emily Day has had work featured in Visual Feast now three times — this year for a mixed media piece based in watercolor but also featuring pencil and marker to incorporate additional textures. It depicts a girl with a subdued expression in a “busy” setting.

Meeting other artists from around the peninsula, seeing their work an maybe getting the chance to put a face to a familiar name is also a benefit of the show, Day said. Looking around at the interesting and innovative work being done by peers from other schools, Day said she comes out with fresh inspiration and motivation.

Day also echoed the ideas described by Jacko, that showing and sharing work on a public stage helps to boost student’s confidence and further their artistry. Further, Day said the show is an opportunity to recognize students pursuing art for their talents and their craft in the way other students often are for sports.

“The community can see that we are students that are trying really hard,” Day said. “They can see that we’re talented.”

The 33rd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Juried Student Art Show “Visual Feast” opens Friday evening and runs through April 26 during gallery hours, noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The opening reception and awards ceremony will be held Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with refreshments and music performed by Harold Rudstrom.

For more information about the show or the Kenai Art Center, including upcoming exhibitions and programming, find “Kenai Art Center” on Facebook or visit kenaiartcenter.org.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District high school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District middle school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District middle school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District middle school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District middle school students is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District middle schoolers is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Artwork by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District middle schoolers is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Art by Soldotna High School student Millie Day is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Art by Soldotna High School student Millie Day is displayed as part of the 33rd Annual Visual Feast at the Kenai Art Center on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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