Niles students’ work to be featured in virtual art exhibit

NILES — In a speech prepared for the 2020 Middle and High School Community Student Art Exhibit, Ring Lardner and Eastside Connections art teacher, Scott Morgan, challenged his students to imagine a world without art.

“Art is everywhere,” Morgan said. “It’s the design on your soda can and cereal box, or the graphics of that video game you’re currently obsessed with beating. It’s on the cover of your favorite book. It is all art, and it affects our lives daily.”

This year’s art exhibit will be hosted in an online format, beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and running through Aug. 31. The event will showcase the students’ artwork, and feature speeches from the teacher representatives at that time. The winners of the art exhibit will also be announced as the event kicks off.

Morgan brings his attitude of arts impacting everyday lives to his art students in both schools he teaches at, and what he is emphasizing on Tuesday as the art show is hosted for the first time online.

“When students are able to express creativity, it helps them relieve stress and can be an outlet for when they are feeling down or bothered, and can greatly boost their mood,” Morgan said in his speech. “It can greatly influence how a student learns, and even improve their grades in school.”

Morgan said plans to mount and deliver students’ artwork to those in charge of displaying the artwork at the Box Factory in St. Joseph over spring break changed quickly as COVID-19 mandates shut down schools, businesses and museums. The new online format will allow visitors to see the art 24-hours a day during the exhibit period.

The art show will feature works from 28 Eastside Connections students and 33 Ring Lardner Middle School students. The event also hosts St. Joseph High School students, and will have art teacher Matt Culver speak on their behalf. The show is a collaboration between Box Factory for the Arts, the Berrien RESA, Krasl Art Center and the three schools.

The students’ time to work on art projects in class was cut short by the COVID-19 mandated shutdowns of schools. However, this did not stop their progress, Morgan said.

“They did their projects in school,” Morgan said of the students’ work. “I let them know at the beginning of the year about the art show. They worked on different pieces, and then they pick which one they like the best.”

With traditional entries in painting and drawing categories, Morgan said that 20 entries from Ring Lardner for digital artwork and 6 entries for video were made possible due to the computers and tablets made available to the students. Eastside Connections had two Digital entries from students. The digital artwork expanded the ways students could express themselves both in school and at home.

“The Box Factory selects one middle school teacher and one high school teacher every year to do a presentation,” Morgan said. “I was asked about the importance of art education and the affect is has on the middle school students and their community.”

The event will be hosted on YouTube, with the speakers using Zoom to join the broadcast. The Tuesday evening event will include the opening and awards ceremony of the Middle School and High School Community Student Art Exhibition. To access the event, visit the Krasl Art Center’s YouTube channel.

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