Having the seventh grade students curate an annual art exhibition has been a tradition at Ross School for more than 15 years. The current show, The Illusion of Definition, opened in the Ross Gallery on June 5, and features professional East End artists Roisin Bateman, Don Christensen, and Anne Raymond. The seventh graders spent months preparing for the exhibition, learning about the intricate details that go on behind the scenes at renowned museums. They interviewed local artists, took photos, wrote biographies, selected works, installed the show, and hosted the opening celebration. Along the way, they were supported by Visual Arts teacher Jon Mulhern, Dean of Visual Arts Jennifer Cross, and seventh grade teacher Carol Crane.
The three artists presented in the show create abstract artwork using a variety of media. Roisin Bateman expresses the metamorphic effects of weather on nature in her paintings, pastels, and monotypes. Don Christensen’s paintings use geometric shapes and bright vibrant colors inspired by nature and music. In addition to canvas, Christensen paints on distressed wood and found furniture. Anne Raymond’s paintings and prints are known for evoking an airy feel, with light brushstrokes juxtaposed with darker, bolder ones. She mixes warm, cool, and neutral colors to suggest the wild forces of nature.
In the months before the opening, the students had an opportunity to work with each artist in their local studios to learn about their motivations and techniques. Students created their own art inspired by their visits, and their colorful stools and prints are also on display as part of the show.
Summing up the experience with the pros, the students said, “Working with the artists and witnessing their studios was truly inspirational. They gave us incredible tips on what we should do when making prints and monotypes. We also were able to talk about their interests, and understand the true meaning of their art.”
When it was time to install the show, the seventh graders, artists, and teachers discussed the best arrangement to showcase the beauty and detail of the abstract art. They moved gallery walls and experimented with placement, resulting in a 3D-like effect. For example, the students’ stools were arranged on varying sizes of display podiums in the middle of the gallery.
The students say the project was a lot of work, but teamwork made the difference: “If one gear in the system was stuck, we worked together to fix it.” They also have a new appreciation for everything that goes into running a successful gallery, and now feel that they will experience art in a different way in the future.