'Art Speaks' loud and clear at student exhibit

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Dayville - posted Tue., May. 17, 2011
(L-r) Wendy Markley, grand prize winner Ethan Aspiras and Heather Nault at the student art exhibit. Photos by D. Coffey.
(L-r) Wendy Markley, grand prize winner Ethan Aspiras and Heather Nault at the student art exhibit. Photos by D. Coffey.

An artists’ reception was held on May 10 at The Sunshine Shop in Dayville where portable wall dividers were hung with 256 original works of art. Brownies, crackers, cookies and punch were served up in the lobby while 10-year-old Kylie Thuotte sang country songs for the crowd. The reception was for students of the St. James School in Danielson.

Heather Nault, who runs the frame department at The Sunshine Shop, came up with the idea for the student show, “Art Speaks!,” after her own children inspired her. She thought refrigerators weren’t sufficient galleries for all the artwork area children have created. The Sunshine Shop has showcased seven schools in the last two years: Killingly Intermediate, Killingly High, Putnam Middle, Putnam Daycare, St. Joseph’s Elementary and St. James Elementary. Killingly Middle School will have an exhibition next week.

“We’re trying to do something different,” Nault said.

St. James’ art teacher Wendy Markley chose the works to submit for the show. There were pencil sketches and one point perspectives. There were copies of famous pieces of artwork. Some students used oil pastels to make their work look like oil paintings. There were watercolors and mosaics and splatter art.

Markley stopped in front of an image of a dolphin. The whole work was a series of small dots of colored pencils, a technique called pointillism. “I love pointillism,” she said. “You almost can’t go wrong with doing the technique. I love the fact that you can tell there’s darkness underneath some of the dolphins. This student really showed the light and dark aspects of an underwater scene.”

Students from kindergarten through grade eight exhibited. Markley tries to bring all of the techniques down to her lower grade students. And she uses every media possible to show them every option they can use. Works in watercolor, pencil, paper art, oil pastel and paint were on display.

Markley showed a work by a second-grader who drew trees in a landscape. “It’s almost a one point perspective,” she said, “but because the trees are different sizes, it gives the illusion that trees are going back in space.”

Children and their parents filed through the exhibit before the prizes were announced. The grand prize was awarded to second-grader Ethan Aspiras for his painting of grapes on a vine. First place went to Julie Trafaconda for her pointillism of a dolphin. Second place went to sixth-grader Bailey Boettcher for an acrylic painting of a flower. Third place went to fifth-grader William Hamill for his pencil sketch of an elephant.

All winners were given art supplies and gift certificates. Grand prize winner Ethan Aspiras had his painting framed and mounted as well.

Markley said it was impressive for Aspiras, a second-grader, to grasp the idea that the grapes had to be different colors and sizes.

All but the grand prize selection were based on popular votes. The grand prize winner was selected by an area art teacher who will remain anonymous, said Nault.

“A teacher from the Worcester Art Museum just happened to come in for flowers,” Nault said, “and she chose the same piece of work. So we feel confident that it went to the right artist.”

When asked what his inspiration was, Aspiras said, “Mrs. Markley just told us to draw grapes and I did.”

Ethan’s mother, Anne Murray, said, “I just always tell him how good he is and every so often he just comes out with another masterpiece.”

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