Tonawanda News

March 7, 2014

NT students take part in Carnegie event

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — For the third year, more than 100 North Tonawanda students will have their work displayed during the Student Spotlight art exhibit at the Carnegie Art Center, giving them a real-world taste of a professional environment. 

Chris Cook, co-advisor for the district’s Academy of Engineering and Architecture and head of the high school’s art department, said a range of mediums will be displayed starting this week, from ceramics and photography to pen-and-ink drawings and paintings. 

The age groups of participants also runs the gamut from third through 12th graders, who created about 150 pieces shown in the gallery through March 21.  

”When the kids see a piece of their work hanging up int the gallery it gives them a real nice sense of self esteem and an accomplishment,” Cook said. “And it puts them in a professional setting.” 

The venture began in 2012 when a former district art teacher with ties to the Carnegie Art Center suggested launching the show. During Thursday’s opening night, the popularity it has gained among community members was obvious, with dozens of the students’ friends and family members, along with residents, streaming into the gallery. 

The exhibit comes following another popular show at Daemon College, where several select students recently displayed their works, and ahead of the larger district art show expected to take place in May at the Alumni Student Activity Center on Meadow Drive. 

The shows are being held as the district has cut the arts program for kindergarten through second grade, as well as several teachers at the high school level. Six art instructors now serve in all of the district’s schools, down from nine several years ago. 

Gregg Martin, who teaches ceramics, drawing and advanced painting at the high school, lauded the progress that has been made at the Carnegie, located at 240 Goundry St., while he said it is a group effort among art teachers that brings the event to fruition. 

”The teachers get together and set it up ourselves,” he said. “It’s a nice show. And the Carnegie is great, it has really come a long way. About 15 years ago it was more of a local gallery and now it has become more mainstream. I’m really pleased with what they have done there.” 

Martin said the preponderance of work created by students is largely made up of paintings, though many of the district’s academy members also took part. Some of the student participants plan on carrying their love for the arts into college, though Martin said it’s just as important for the younger generations to get a feel. 

“The little kids, they bring in the turnout,” he said. “When you get a little guy with a drawing in there, mom and dad and grandma will be there.” 

The gallery is open to the general public most days for those interested in viewing the exhibit, with plans for a family night event on Wednesday evening, which Cook said in past years has been well attended.