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Gallery profiles young artists

Ashland Middle School students are taking their work out of the classroom and into the gallery.

Seventy-one pieces of pottery, collage and charcoal work adorned the Gallery DeForest at 270 4th St. Friday evening. Many of the works will go on sale in a silent auction, with half of the proceeds going toward the student and the other half to fund art supplies at the middle school.

Kaitlin Megarit, 14, an eighth-grader at Ashland Middle School, displayed a portrait collage she had made during the last trimester of art class.

The collage portrays a woman with triangle shapes surrounding her face and shades of black, white, green and yellow filling the background. Megarit said it was music that inspired her to create art. She said she already has her sights on art scholarships in high school.

Megarit said she chose to portray a black woman in her art work because it was different from what many of her classmates were doing. Most students created portraits of Caucasians.

Megarit said she has learned a lot about facial proportions lately in class, but her passion for art started long ago.

"I've been playing with paper and crayons since I can remember," she said.

Ashland Middle School art teacher Robert Kuhn has been teaching students drawing, pottery and collage for four years. This is the first time so many of works of his students have made it to display in a gallery.

He said some students, like Megarit, have far surpassed the norms for their age group. Students said having their work on display helps boost their self esteem, also.

Kuhn said he dabbles in teaching middle school students advanced techniques but said "when I was their age, I just wanted to draw."

He said he wants to keep the momentum going of having his students' works on display and maybe someday offer more art classes throughout the year at the middle school so kids can progress with their art if they have a keen interest in it.

Although he works with about 170 students, Kuhn said the high point is watching individuals get excited about their ideas.

"It just strikes me to see their enthusiasm," he said.

Quincy Briscoe, an eighth-grader at Ashland Middle School, said his experiences in art class in middle school have motivated him to take a wood shop class in high school. Briscoe, 13, showed off a collage he made of a butterfly and a bumblebee. He said he and his friends bounce ideas off each other when they decide what they are going to design.

"In art, you just kind of have fun," he said.

For Shoshanah Dubiner, an artist with a studio at the Briscoe Art Wing, art is more than just having fun.

Dubiner started volunteering at the middle school in September and helped organize the show. She helped Kuhn search through all the works of art from the middle school.

"We just picked out the ones that we thought were well done and show some variety," Dubiner said.

She said the point of the gallery is also to showcase how important art is and encourage schools to support it with more funding.

Dubiner wrote an essay in 1999 discussing the importance of art education. She remarked how some people see art as "the frosting on the cake" that isn't taken seriously.

"But art is not the frosting on the cake," she wrote. "Art is the water itself that binds the flour, sugar, salt and yeast to make the cake batter. Without the water, all you have are dry ingredients."

Dubiner worked with Gallery DeForest owner Cathy DeForest to set up the works. DeForest has volunteered her studio to showcase children's art for three years. The middle school collection will be on display for silent auction through March 17.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 227 or .