Regional museums showcasing student-created art

Mar. 2—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Three regional museums will showcase the talents of the next generation of artists.

Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art is continuing its tradition of recognizing the area's youth with "Artists of the 21st Century," the museum's annual student exhibition.

Hundreds of pieces will be featured in exhibitions that will continue through April 16 at SAMA-Altoona, 1210 11th Ave., Altoona; through April 23 at SAMA-Bedford, located in the Anderson House, 137 E. Pitt St., Bedford; and through April 30 at SAMA-Ligonier Valley, 1 Boucher Lane, Ligonier.

Kristin Miller, SAMA-Ligonier's site director and SAMA's education coordinator, said the exhibition is a celebration of student art.

"It really shows our community how important the arts are," she said.

"We know from research how critical this is in their development. It helps accentuate the creativity aspect.

"There's also research that shows future job skills are coming through the arts, so we want to help embrace that and show how important the arts are in the educational system."

Miller said the quality of the work is impressive.

"It is stellar," she said.

"The creativity and imagination of our students are phenomenal, even at the elementary level. It's always fun for me to watch our visitors come in and they're stunned by the quality of the work."

The teacher-selected exhibition features a variety of media, including pastels, oils, watercolors, acrylics, ceramics, 3D work, colored pencils, graphite drawings and group projects in mixed media.

"There really is a little bit of everything," Miller said.

Held in conjunction with National Youth Art Month and the state's Arts-in- Education Month, the exhibition is open to schools that participate in SAMA's arts-in-education or artist-in-residence programs.

Through the programs, SAMA educators and professional artists travel to public and parochial schools to provide lessons designed to enhance students' understanding of art creation, technique, history, criticism and aesthetics.

Each district is permitted to submit up to 25 individual projects and two group projects.

"Students are so excited to have their work shown," Miller said.

"One of my favorite things to do is talk to them and ask them what their inspiration was, why they chose the piece they did, what their motivation was for it and how they created the piece. They're so articulate and passionate about it."

Students in Cambria, Somerset and Blair counties are participating in the SAMA-Altoona exhibition.

Students in Bedford County will participate in the SAMA-Bedford exhibit.

Students from Westmoreland and Fayette counties will have their works featured at SAMA-Ligonier Valley.

Schools represented in the SAMA-Altoona exhibition are Altoona Area, Blacklick Valley, Cambria Heights, Forest Hills, Greater Johnstown, Hollidaysburg Area, Penn Cambria and Portage Area school districts; Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School and Foot of Ten Elementary.

Work from Bedford Area, Chestnut Ridge and Everett Area school districts will be represented at SAMA- Bedford.

Schools participating in the SAMA-Ligonier Valley exhibit include Derry Area, Hempfield Area, Greater Latrobe, Greensburg-Salem and Ligonier Valley school districts; Champion Christian School and Valley School of Ligonier; and Greensburg Central Catholic High School.

The opening reception for the SAMA-Ligonier exhibition will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

"Every year it's so delightful, and it's so much fun to see parents, grandparents and extended family come in and truly celebrate the students' work," Miller said.

"This is the same type of reception that we would do for any artist, so it's a wonderful afternoon. We give each student a certificate because we want them to feel extra-special."

Refreshments will be served.

The reception is free to attend, but a $1 donation is suggested to support the exhibitions.

Registration is encouraged at

Miller said that even if you don't have a child who is displaying art, the show is worth viewing.

"I've heard so many times from guests just dropping by to see it, saying it's their favorite exhibition of the year," she said.

"There's such a diversity of work and the quality they see is amazing. It truly embraces what art and art expression are all about."

Miller added that those viewing the exhibition will see that the arts are thriving in the region.

"Art is very much alive and the passion of art is very much alive, and our goal is to keep that going," she said.

"That creativity is still very much out there."

The project is made possible through the AIE Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Sigma Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Organization for Women Educators and the Jack Buncher Foundation.

Museum hours are noon to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays at each location.

Admission to the exhibition is free.

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