Middle School Artists Share Their Work With the Community

A new exhibition showcasing the artwork of middle school students is on view at the Wenberg Gallery in the Fonseca Center through April 14.

“Plant Life Observations,” the studio work of fifth, sixth and eighth grade students, includes charcoal, watercolor and ink drawings. Students had the opportunity to explore and interpret real life using line, shape, value, texture, proportion and color from direct observation. 

Fifth grader Clover Dawson-Hollis poured her creativity into the aptly titled “Wild Life.” “In the beginning of making my creation, I was doubting my talent and decision making but as my brush strokes started to overlap, and my ink pen started to splatter, I knew I could not just start over and leave my artwork in the trash,” she explained. “So I started to harness my confusion, my anger, my uncertainty of what would happen, and took all of them and transferred them onto my piece of paper.” 

Bruce Robbins, middle school visual arts teacher, was impressed with the work of his artists. ”Drawing from observation takes much focus and practice,” he explained. “It gave my students a good foundation for the projects that followed.”

In “Imaginary Places,” seventh grade students created abstract expressionist work with watercolors. Vicente Saavedra, middle school visual arts teacher, invited his students to draw a picture of a make-believe place and use art elements such as line, shape, color, texture and visual movement. 

“The place could be strange, beautiful or mysterious. Funny or dreamlike things could happen there,” Saavedra said. “The project was an invitation to be creative and have an opportunity to express feelings, emotions and personal views. The body of work is a great example of artistic diversity and individual output.”

Seventh grader Trey Gelman ’28 described his work, “Circles of Light,” as “a disoriented lightning bolt made of circles from a cup.” Gelman found the design process intriguing. “I was looking at the walls for inspiration and saw a lightning bolt,” he explained. “I thought it would be unique to make this with circles and then add very bright vibrant colors.”

In addition to their plant life observations, fifth graders are preparing for their upcoming puppet opera. The “Egyptian Puppet Designs” display highlights some of the students' processes of developing their goddess and god characters. The spring performance will be a culmination of their yearlong interdisciplinary study of ancient Egypt and opera. 

Dawson-Hollis worked on Hathor, the goddess of love, paint, music, dancing, fertility and pleasure. “Designing my puppet has been one of the most exciting parts of my year so far,” Dawon-Hollis said. “I wanted to make it clear to the audience that her world is beauty, but not make it so that she has no emotions or depth. Her outfit has a lot of colors and patterns. She has a gold face, cow horns, Egyptian eyeliner and a head of colorful hair.”

Robbins noted the drawings are “a visual starting point for developing the actual puppet characters for their opera: how they will look and why is based on history, their imaginations and their collaborative script.”

Off campus, the paintings and drawings of upper school artists were also on display. Last week, the work of Gifty Baah ’25, Hanna Frasca ’25, Anna Moscato ’25, Sophie Moussapour ’25, Sydney Starkey ’25, Aron Tucker ’24, Ava Viscarello ’24 and Sage Weinstock ’24 was on view in “You Are Here: The Art & Design of the Hudson Valley” at the Garrison Art Center in Garrison, NY. The eight students are from the School’s Advanced Studio Art, AP Studio Art and Studio Art 10 classes.

The artwork of two juniors is featured in the 33rd Annual Legislative Student Art Exhibit, a virtual show organized by the New York State Art Teachers Association (NYSATA). “A Friend From the Future” by Lisa Yao ’24 (Slide # 292) and “The Ride Home” by Eleanor Schalkwyk ’24 (Slide #293) can be seen on the online NYSATA exhibit through December.