In a bustling and packed venue, students, faculty, and parents alike met to “[celebrate] all levels of student artwork” of students across the school. The 2017 Blue and Gold Gallery held its opening reception on Thursday, April 6th from 6:00-8:00 pm at 350 Main Street, Malden MA and was met with a great turnout of people eager to see the work that MHS art students dedicated themselves to from as early as last school year.

Art displayed in the show. Photo taken by Toby Pitan.

Notable appearances at the gallery on Thursday night included Mayor Gary Christenson, former MHS Principal Dana Brown as well as Principal Ted Lombardi. In an opening speech to the reception, Mayor Christenson explained how “one of the most gratifying moments for him…is displaying [the] artwork across city government” and that the students’ artwork “gets better and better every year.” Christensen explained how holding events such as these and celebrating students art is important because art is not often given the recognition it deserves in a school setting. He wants students to know that “life will always be about hard work and dedication” which was evident through the art displayed at the gallery night.

Originally, the show was exclusively dedicated to seniors until it expanded to commemorating art from each grade level at MHS”.From as early as freshman year students are conditioned for the gallery. Art teacher Maryann Seager explained the significance of the annual event, that it helps students “improve their their hearts…[and] develop ideas as citizens”. Seager also added that they were “lucky enough to have a public display which is unusual” as this way Malden’s taxpayers can be reaffirmed that the public education of Malden is at the “highest intellectual, spiritual, creative, and emotional level”. The artwork displayed came from a myriad of art disciplines within MHS such as “drawing, painting, ceramics, editorial illustration, digital art and printing” said art teacher Joe Luongo. Seager added that most difficult aspect of the putting together the gallery is deciding which pieces to hang up as their unfortunately is not enough room to recognize every student.

Art displayed at the show. Photo by Toby Pitan.

Luongo explained how it was important that they “include as many students as possible” from “as many disciplines from as possible”. Each art teacher including himself, Seager, and Ceramics teacher Julie Mullane select particularly “outstanding” pieces throughout the entirety of each school year to set aside for the show; these pieces will ultimately be featured on the gallery’s program, complimentary bookmark, or displayed at the show itself.The three teachers then collaborate and “very rarely do [they] disagree” on what to feature. Luongo describes MHS art classes as “challenging but...very stimulating”; classes offered help students to “improve to the very best of their abilities”.

Senior Daniel Arzate explains that he gets his inspirations mainly from the deadlines that his teachers gave him and that he was “glad that [his work] was featured”. He has been creating art for about 2-3 years and originally joined classes for “an easy credit” but “after the first year of art [he] ended up liking it… something clicked." Arzate adds that favorite art class was Studio II with Mr. Luongo “because that [was] when art really became meaningful to [him]”. He doesn’t let his family’s lack of support discourage him and continues to share his art mainly via his Instagram account.

Poster for Blue and Gold art gallery. Photo by Toby Pitan.

A notable aspect of this year’s art gallery was the amount of accolades that MHS students received on a statewide level. This year MHS received the most Scholastic Art Awards than “any of the surrounding district” winning 22 collective awards. The Scholastic Art Competition is a national awards competition that judges submitted works. Over 17,000 works were submitted statewide. MHS’s work was judged by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the winners included gold keys awarded to students Brianna Acker, Sammy Lee, and Naomi Brill and silver keys awarded to students Jade Farrell, Joana Tang, and Kelly Zhou.

Additionally, Luongo adds that the club that he advises, The Fine Arts Club, is continually active. Graduating officers of the club include President Debra Deapherne, Vice President Winnie Li, Secretary Cece Chevry, and Historian Co Chairs Daniel Arzate and Mailsha Zhao. The club hosts events such as Zombie Tag which has been a continuous success over the years.

Luongo also gave a preview to a current project his Studio I class is working called the “Hoodie Self Portrait Project” inspired by a show he saw at Lesley University in which each Studio I student is photographed in a hoodie. Many pieces such as this project contain political commentary. Luongo explains how every other year his classes partake in a “Art and Politics Project” during the presidential and midterm elections. This project includes a formal portrait along with a caricature which can include editorial content. Luongo adds that “he doesn’t tell his students what to do...they do what they see”.

Overall, this special night succeeded in giving MHS art students the recognition they deserved for the art they create which continues to enrich the school and the local community. The 2014 Blue and Gold Gallery will be free and to the public for viewing until May 16th Monday through Friday 8 am-6pm and Saturday 9am-12pm.

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