Growing talent: Muscatine students exhibit at art center

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–For many students, experiences in junior and senior high school art classes allow them to discover their passion for creating and encourage them to continue pursuing art as an adult. Though students may realize their love for painting, drawing, or sculpting, they do not always get to share their work with others or receive recognition for their skills. In 2017, after the Muscatine Art Center finished significant renovations, they revived their tradition of holding a student art exhibition each year, with Muscatine Community School District students in elementary school exhibiting in odd numbered years and junior and senior high school students exhibiting in even years. While the COVID-19 pandemic did interrupt the annual event in 2020, it has returned to its usual cycle, with art work from Susan Clark Junior High School and Muscatine High School on display through May 15.

Susan Clark students have their art on display on the lower level of the Stanley Gallery giving them a place to showcase their budding skills. From desserts made out of clay, to unique twists on watercolor sunsets, to a 3D diorama exploring the role of water in communities, these students’ artwork illustrates the potential young students have to create original art.

Upstairs, high school students show off just how far their skills have come with both traditional works such as drawn or painted still lives and clay busts, to more unusual media such as cardboard, cut paper, photoshop, and animation. Created in response to many different prompts, these works show the versatility of slightly older artists getting comfortable with their skills.

To honor the contributions of each of the young artists in this exhibition, the Muscatine Art Center, located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, will host a public reception March 30 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., representatives from Muscatine Sister Cities and Global Education at the Stanley Center will give some remarks and present cash prizes to up to five students whose art captures the concept of clean drinking water for all people. Students, their families, and other attendees may also enjoy light refreshments.

For those who do not have the opportunity to attend the reception, the exhibit will remain on display during the Art Center’s regular hours. A very different sort of exhibit from the rest of the Art Center’s offerings throughout the year, Muscatine Art Center Director Melanie Alexander invites the community to come out and see what Muscatine’s current generation of rising artists has created. “I think it’s refreshing to see what the students are up to,” she remarked, adding the exhibit offers an enjoyable way to, “see the world through the eyes of a 13- to 17-year-old–it’s just kind of fun to see what makes an impression on them.”

As the last vestiges of winter start to disappear and color begins to return to the outside world, this year’s student art exhibit has brought life and color to the Muscatine Art Center’s Stanley Gallery as well. “Especially after so many gray days, the pop of color from the student’s art work is refreshing,” said Alexander. With the promise of spring only just arriving, Alexander believes many other gallery visitors will find the liveliness of the student artwork invigorating too.

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