Artwork of all kinds is on display at the Kenai Art Center’s annual student showcase through the month of May.
Middle and high school students from around the Kenai Peninsula came to last Thursday’s opening reception and award ceremony to view their own original pieces and showcase their talent.
Chris Jenness, an art teacher at Soldotna High School, said the show was juried in a sense, because instructors across different schools in the district chose the pieces.
“With the number of students, I have a number of projects,” he said. “There’s probably 1,200 pieces of work that come to me throughout the course of a year, so when a kid gets into this show, personally I can choose 18 pieces.”
Art teachers from other middle and high schools in the area — including in Kenai, Nikiski, Homer and Seward — juried their students’ art as well.
Jenness said making the final call on the show is difficult, especially with the range of pieces students submit and the number of spots for each category.
Jonathan Freeman, a senior at Kenai Central High School, won first place in the photography division. His work features a three-dimensional photo set, with both the positive and negative versions of the image.
“It’s made up of primitive technology for cameras, it’s just a pinhole,” he said. “So you put a pinhole in a box, essentially, and then the light from the outside reflects into the photo set, onto the photo sensitive paper, inside the box.”
Freeman said he was surprised with his award in the photography category.
“I was shocked,” he said. “It was thrown into existence just out of nowhere and it kind of became what it did. I’m happy to get first place, it’s just I did not expect it.”
The senior only picked up photography this school year, but he said he plans to continue with the craft, especially film art.
Andrea Eggleston, an art teacher at Skyview Middle School, said she was proud of the progress her students made throughout the year.
“Growth and independence is what I’m looking for, that’s actually how I pick the pieces for the show,” she said. “If the student took the lesson that I presented and they ran with it independently, maybe put their own twist on it (and) made independent, creative decisions, that stands out to me.”
It was evident, too, which students took the time to practice their art over the past two years, Eggleston said. The annual student show at the Kenai Art Center was put on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We took a two-year break, and for many of these kids they did not have an opportunity for a structured, organized, full quarter-long art class,” she said. “And they’re finally in this environment, and it really shows the students who were continuing to explore art on their own.”
The student show will be on display at the art center through April. The center is open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.