A sculpture of a small robotic figure rests on a plinth, their torso filled with art supplies and Wolverine, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A sculpture of a small robotic figure rests on a plinth, their torso filled with art supplies and Wolverine, at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Something to ‘feast’ your eyes on

Annual Kenai Art Center exhibit showcasing student artwork

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s “Visual Feast” will return for its 32nd year at the Kenai Art Center on Friday, showcasing art from middle and high school students in Kenai, Soldotna, Homer and Seward.

Stephanie Cox, an art teacher at SoHi, said work will be on display from Homer High School, Seward High School, Nikiski Middle/High School, Soldotna High School, Kenai Central High School, Homer Middle School, Skyview Middle School, Kenai Middle School and Aurora Borealis Charter School. Work by the high school students will be in the center’s front gallery, with the work by middle school students in the back.

The work will span several mediums, Cox said, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, watercolor, acrylic and oil, and others.

Chris Jenness, also an art teacher at Soldotna High School, said that art is selected throughout the year by the art teachers. Each piece will be judged, and at an opening reception Friday night, awards will be given to the students in a variety of categories based on the medium used.

The process of selecting students work happens throughout the school year, he said. When something special crosses his desk, he’ll set it aside. That means telling the student they have to wait until the end of the year to take the piece home.

“All year long we’ll grab a piece here, a piece there, that not only exemplifies what we’re trying to do, but also shows off their creativity — the challenges they’ve overcome,” he said.

Cox said that she’s always looking to identify the students who have excelled with their skills. She said she teaches lots of ceramics, so some key indicators are composition and balance.

Jenness said it’s more than just a measure of technical prowess; the art teachers are looking to see the thinking behind the piece.

Cox said that she’s been involved with “Visual Feast” as an art teacher for 18 years, and that in that time she’s seen the art departments at local schools develop and adapt to various circumstances, including budget cuts.

She said it serves both as a showcase of the work being done by local students, but also of the options and opportunities available to students in KPBSD schools. She said parents and community members don’t always realize the opportunities available or the variety of what they’re doing.

The “Visual Feast,” Jenness said, is a high profile opportunity for the arts side of the local schools to get a public showing. He said it would be an opportunity for the community to see “the different kinds of interesting things happening in schools.”

For the students, Jenness said they would get the opportunity to see their work displayed, to have people talk about it.

“It’s not just your mom,” he said.

For some students, their art projects are just another assignment. Jenness said he hopes they see the value in what they’re doing and take the chance to compare what they’re doing to peers around the Kenai Peninsula.

Cox said that teaching art is about teaching students to be “creative thinkers and creative problem-solvers,” which they can take into life. She said that was something valuable to the community.

The “Visual Feast” will be available during Kenai Art Center hours, noon to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, from Friday to April 29. The opening reception will feature music and refreshments, running from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday. Awards for middle school students will be distributed at 5:30 p.m., followed by awards for high school students at 6 p.m.

For more information about the Kenai Art Center, visit kenaiartcenter.org or facebook.com/KenaiArtCenter.

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

A detailed sculpture of a human head overgrown with fungus rests on a plinth at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A detailed sculpture of a human head overgrown with fungus rests on a plinth at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A watercolor painting of an apple and a pear hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A watercolor painting of an apple and a pear hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A colorful painting of a rooster hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A colorful painting of a rooster hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting depicting the point of view of a driver at an intersection hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting depicting the point of view of a driver at an intersection hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting of a child with a sheep’s head hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A painting of a child with a sheep’s head hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

An abstract painting featuring themes of flora hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

An abstract painting featuring themes of flora hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A pot with a detailed face rests on a plinth at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A pot with a detailed face rests on a plinth at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A blue butterfly is seen infront of a row of smokestacks in a painting hanging at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A blue butterfly is seen infront of a row of smokestacks in a painting hanging at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A colorful painting of an eye hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A colorful painting of an eye hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A drawing of a kettle and some pears hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

A drawing of a kettle and some pears hangs at the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in preparation for the debut of the 32nd Annual Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Visual Feast. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

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