Community pulls together to present student art exhibit


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By Gloria Stravelli


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METUCHEN – An exhibit of artworks created by local arts students will open at the Rotunda Gallery at Borough Hall on July 21, thanks to a collaboration between the local arts, school and business communities.

“The arts council is really delighted to collaborate with the Metuchen High School art students to show off their work to the public,” Bob Diken, co-chair of the Metuchen Arts Council, in a prepared statement. “Many thanks to art teacher Kelly Murphy for reaching out.”

The student art exhibit is an annual tradition for graduating seniors who plan to pursue art studies in college, as well as for advanced art students at the high school.

Held each year at the high school, the show gives students the opportunity to interact with professional artists and features guided tours of the artworks and a meet-and-greet with the student artists.

However, plans for the exhibit and related events were cancelled due to concerns surrounding the pandemic.

That is when the community stepped up.

Diken said the arts council would mentor the students through an educational component at the exhibit.

“We plan to give them all their first official show and share the process of curation, framing, hanging the work and putting on opening and closing receptions,” he said in the statement. “Besides showing all the great work, these budding stars will get a practical experience for how a show is organized, which they can use going forward in their creative careers.”

According to Murphy, the exhibit features artwork created by advanced student artists, including AP Studio, Honors Art and senior students.

“Throughout the school year, these students challenged themselves to develop technical skills in a variety of media, including drawing, painting, photography and digital arts,” she said in a statement announcing the exhibit opening.

“The artwork also reflects a variety of concepts and topics explored based on the personal interests of each artist. While the media and subject may vary with each artwork, the artists share a common passion for the arts as a means of self-expression, of reflecting on their experiences and fostering connections with others.

“Rising juniors and seniors will continue to create a portfolio of meaningful works of art next year in AP Studio. Graduates are beginning their professional careers by pursuing college studies in fine art, communications and design,” Murphy said.

In announcing the resumption of the arts season earlier this year, Grace Shackney, arts council secretary, noted students had been impacted as well by the restrictions in place.

“Students have suffered just as the businesses downtown have suffered,” she said. “They have not been able to perform or show their work to the community and many of them are graduating.”

Shackney said the council responded to a request from the high school art department to support a show of the students’ work and organized the exhibit in the Rotunda Gallery and at local businesses.

Plans also call for an art walk, she said, so people can meet the students and see their work.

Dates and times of activities and the locations of participating businesses will be listed at

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