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Troy’s young masters devour the space

Laura Cantrell’s students stand out.

Arriving at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, one of my favorite galleries, I am excited to see all the creations by Troy art students. I wander through all the gallery spaces, taking photos of the works I recognize as standouts. Once back at my office I peruse the images and finally take a good look at the title/student/instructor labels.

That is when it hit me; almost all the exemplary works were created by student artists in the same class. They’re taught by Laura Cantrell, art instructor at Troy Junior High School.

“A lot of them don’t realize they have talent until they come here, and then they unleash their imaginations, and it’s like watching a bunch of kindergartners making mud pies,” said Cantrell, an art education graduate at the University of Dayton. “I give them a lot of freedom, and so far it has not failed me.”

All artwork was completed during the 2012-13 school year and includes drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, sculpture, ceramics and mixed media. A total of 294 K-12 students were involved in this show from Troy Public Schools, Troy Christian High School, Troy Christian Elementary and St. Patrick’s Elementary. The displayed works were juried by the art teachers.

These pieces deserve special recognition:

“Heart of Music” by Abby Smith and Hanaka Suzuki (Cantrell, instructor), eighth-graders, Troy Junior High School. This delightful mixed-media art is definitely sharp, and not flat. The long evening gown is comprised of paper and cloth, embellished with musical notes.

“Chuck Close-Inspired Self-Portrait” by Maddison Wagner (Cantrell, instructor), eighth-grade, Troy Junior High School. This oil pastel shows depth and sophistication for such a young student. Her grid, or ‘pixels’ in her drawing can be seen as the viewer gets closer to the work.

“Superheroes and Villains” by various students including Mariah Kolker, Audrey Neal, Jack Gates, Chloe Johnston and Brooke Staten (Cantrell, instructor) at Troy Junior High School. This corner installation catches the eye with ceramic superheroes scaling cardboard and paper buildings; bright colors and word balloons such as “whoosh” and “boom!”

“You Are What You Eat” by Bailey Hess, Jenna Vent and Connor Hensley (Cantrell, instructor), Troy Junior High School. A sculptured figure covered with all manner of candy wrappers and french fry containers made this viewer smile. It’s such an ironic commentary on Americans’ junk food obsession.

“The Twister of Whoville” by Briana Soto (Gabbie Braun, instructor), fifth-grader at Kyle Elementary. Dr. Suess fans will get this weird take on basketry. The shape will remind you of the whimsical illustrations in Suess books.

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” a group project by Hook Elementary students (Lindsey Fulton, instructor). This large-scale mixed-media work was created with painted toilet paper rolls.

“Untitled” by Jostlyne Erbaugh (Phil Matthews, Photo 1 instructor), junior at Troy High School. Three self-portraits are displayed in wire frames amid other abstract elements wrapped in multicolored yarns. The whole of it is framed again, resulting in an impressive composition. “I personally enjoy this artwork because of its intricacies,” said Matthews. “Jostylne is a talented student that takes her time and comes up with very creative solutions to the assignments given to her.”

Last but not least, don’t miss the Monster Display on the windowsill. Three-eyed creatures serve as colorful and funny counterpoints to the elegant white-framed windows. It’s a collaboration between Troy Junior High School artists (Cantrell, instructor) Shelby Campbell, Zoyie Davidson, Luke Johnson, Emma Lavelle, Logan Magoto and Kathrine Timmers; and Forest Elementary kindergarten artists (Braun, instructor) Colten Hermann, Derrin McCormick, Cassie McNutt, Dane Nicholas and Deanna Rohlfs.

“I’m always amazed at the talented children and teenagers we have in the area,” said Troy-Hayner exhibit coordinator Nancy Hutchins. “There’s always new teachers, and it’s always fun to see what the new works are going to be. This show is just outstanding.”

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