Young artists grab spotlight at Box Factory

Published 9:16 am Thursday, March 20, 2014

Elementary school art, now on display at the Box Factory for the Arts, will soon be replaced by that of middle and high school students. (Photo by Jeff Heaton)

Elementary school art, now on display at the Box Factory for the Arts, will soon be replaced by that of middle and high school students. (Photo by Jeff Heaton)

ST. JOSEPH—From March 27 through April 16, some of the most promising high-school and middle-school artists in the area will be displaying their work as a part of the “Inspiring Future Artists” show at the Box Factory for the Arts.

Formerly known as the Middle and High School Show, the exhibit will include the work of students from approximately 17 middle schools and 19 high schools in Berrien County and beyond. Home-schooled students will exhibit their art as well.

“It’s a great location for student art,” said Jeff Heaton, home-school art instructor at the Box Factory and liaison for the redesign of the show. “It’s a beautiful, industrial place to display the work, and every year, we want to try to make it a little bit better.”

In an effort to improve the show, a committee of art and education specialists from Berrien RESA, the Krasl Art Center and the Box Factory have been meeting since August.

“Elizabeth Andrews, Keith Stevens, Tami Miller, Ali Hansen and I have been meeting monthly since August to redesign and improve the show,” Heaton said.

The first challenge was to develop an easy means for teachers to display their students’ art without damaging the walls of the galleries.

“We’re trying to change the display space. We’ve created new panels with frames and covered them with burlap to cover our brick walls,” Heaton said. “It’s easier to install the show because it’s a softer display surface.”

Another challenge was to create displays that showcased each student’s work. This required limiting the number of entries from each school.

“The number of entries was unlimited in the past, but we’ve limited it to 25 per school this year. By reducing the number, we’re hoping to get a better view of the artwork,” Heaton said. “It was crammed in last year. By doing this, we hope to have a better-looking show.”

This year, visitors can expect to see a show that looks similar to others that they have seen at the Box Factory.

“We’re trying to raise the bar as far as how the work has been presented,” Heaton explained. “We’re doing it the same way that we do the adult and professional shows at the Box Factory.”

That includes hanging all of the work composed in one medium together.

“We will be hanging the show by type of artwork rather than by school,” Heaton said. “That way, students will be seeing how their work looks against the work of students from other schools.”

Limiting the number of entries will also help organizers achieve a third goal: to emphasize the prestige associated with being included in the show.

“The quality of the art show has always been really good, but we’re trying to make it a special honor for students to be included in this show,” Heaton said. “We hope this will be a show that they can put into their portfolios and resumes.”

On March 27, an opening reception will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m., including a presentation of awards at 6:30 p.m.

“We will be having several awards, and we have a couple of scholarships available for some of the seniors as well,” Heaton said.

Heaton and fellow organizers are looking forward to the upcoming show.

“It’s very important to display student art,” Heaton said. “I taught art for 31 years in public schools in Ohio, so I totally respect all of the work that the art teachers have done, especially with the budget constraints they have.”