By David Perry
Anya Crowley of Arlington gazed around the gallery – stuffed with students and parents to the point of spilling out the door – and thought, “Wow!”
Crowley, a senior at Landmark Academy in Beverly, was “beyond excited” to have her work hang in Mahoney Hall Student Art Gallery among fellow high school students from across the region in the university’s first Regional High School Exhibition.
Sponsored by the Art & Design Department, the exhibit features 50 works by students from public and private high schools around the state. The student work included graphic design, photos, paintings and pencil and charcoal drawings. One young artist even crafted a pair of miniature puppets.
Crowley had two pieces in the exhibit, a graphic design called “Diamond Glyph” and a stunning charcoal self-portrait called “Something I Reveal.”
She was among five students to receive awards at the opening reception on Dec. 2. Crowley won Merit in Craftsmanship for her self-portrait; Audrey Sequeira of Westford Academy won for Excellence in Drawing; Mark Elman of Needham High School won for Merit in Craftsmanship; Mary Elizabeth Miller of Haverhill High School won for Excellence in Character Design; and Autumn Bellan from Chelmsford High School won for Excellence in Painting.
Art & Design faculty Ellen Wetmore, Stephen Mishol and Ingrid Hess were on hand, talking to students and parents about the university and its program; Mishol judged the entries for prizes.
”It’s such an honor to be part of this, so exciting,” said Crowley, who is planning for a career in advertising or graphic design someday, perhaps designing logos or packaging.
Crowley hopes her achievement in the exhibit is a prelude to success as a UML student.
“I hope to be coming here to study art next year. It’s just what I was looking for. The art program seems to be so solid. And the university really cares about art, which is hard to find at colleges. Something like this really shows it,” she said.
The idea with the exhibit, according to Wetmore, was to offer prospective art students a chance to show their work while making them and others aware of the breadth of UML’s Art & Design offerings.
When Wetmore put out the word of the exhibit, she received 65 responses, and the exhibit included 50 pieces from 15 schools.
“It’s been years since we as a department had a good look around the neighborhood, but we attend high school portfolio reviews,” said Wetmore. “We know there’s tremendous talent out there. When I was in high school, I thrived on institutional recognition for my art, and we wanted to pass on that encouragement to the next generation.”
Art is a talent “that grows with practice,” she told the students. “The more you do this, the better you get.”
“It’s overwhelming,” said Chelmsford High senior Medha Purushotha, standing near her pencil rendering of a woman’s face. “There are so many talented artists in this, and I’m thrilled to be with them.”
Large and riddled with drama and color, Ula Grabski’s acrylic work “Heartbreak” showed a girl having her heart pulled from her chest.
“I really want to go to college to study art,” said the Haverhill High School senior. “I applied to UMass Lowell in November.
“I really like the strength of the art program here. People say to me, especially my friends who have toured here, that I should consider it. It’s just a really good department,” Grabski said.
The students’ work will be on display at the Mahoney Gallery on South Campus until Dec. 21.