Arts Centre showcases local youth talent

March 16, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER


One of the largest praying mantises anybody's ever likely to see lurks menacingly atop a half wall at the old federal courthouse in Martinsburg. Almost three feet long, it lifts its spiny forelegs perilously at eye level, deep in a moment of pre-supper supplication or perhaps preparing to strike.

Good thing it's only made of cardboard.

On display as part of The Arts Centre's Berkeley County High School Youth Art Month Exhibit, the oversized insect is one of about 200 art pieces featured from now until the end of the month in the main hall of the one-time downtown courthouse, now the center's main gallery and education center.

While it's the 19th year for the student arts show, this is the first year the exhibit has been held in the building at 300 W. King St. since The Arts Centre acquired the surplus property from the U.S. Department of Education in 2001.


Arts Centre Executive Director Topper Sherwood said he was happy the student show was the first to be shown in the building.

"The Boarman (Arts Centre) building was a nice house and they made it into a gallery space as best they could, but the federal building is a marvelous space," Sherwood said.

The efforts of high school art students from Martinsburg, Hedgesville and Musselman high schools, the Youth Art Month Exhibit features works done in a variety of media including sculpture, pottery, painting, drawing, printmaking, collage and photography.

With pieces both serious and satirical, the exhibit showcases a number of works of art including, handformed pottery, a storyboard serializing a short film, a series of dioramas demonstrating the possible habitats of a rubber duck - there's a disco duck, a Robin Hood duck, and a duck on the toilet in a miniature bathroom - and another series of cardboard sculptures, including a life-sized hedgehog topped with about 1,500 toothpicks, that Martinsburg High school art teacher Karen Barrett called a demonstration in perseverance by the student artist.

Barrett, who curated the exhibit, said much of the work demonstrates more than just facility with paints and pastel and charcoal.

"Mainly, the objective is creative problem solving," said Barrett, adding she liked to see the students engrossed in their work, and listen to their efforts to express their ideas.

"It was truly amazing to watch the drawings and to listen to the conversation of students as they talked about what they were going to do," she said.

Barrett said displaying the students' work in a gallery setting and taking it out of the classroom lets them view it in a different light.

"It's a very different feeling going and seeing your work up like a professional artist," she said.

The show, which began with an opening reception last week, runs through March 31 and is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m.

More information about the Arts Centre's programs is available by calling 304-263-0224.

If you go

What: Youth art show featuring work from students at Berkeley County's high schools.

When: Thursday through Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m. through March 31.

Where: The Arts Centre, 300 W. King St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

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