Since moving into their custom-made facility in 1951, the Richmond Art Center has offered art classes for all ages and held regular exhibitions. And since 1965, the Center’s annual student art exhibition has given young East Bay artists the chance to show their work in a professional space and inspire the RAC community.
This year, celebrating its 50th anniversary, the student exhibition features work by over 200 students, as well as that of returning students and faculty.
As the RAC’s Teri Gardiner explains -- addressing the Art Center’s long-term commitment to young people -- founder Hazel Salmi believed that an artist lies within everyone. “The exhibition celebrates and showcases the students' creativity," Gardiner says, "and the important role that art plays in education.”
For the milestone this year, Gardiner connected with several of the teachers who ensure their high school students’ arts education is engaging and relevant. El Cerrito High School’s SoYoung Jun used renowned local artist Wayne Thiebaud as inspiration for a ceramic dessert assignment. For a children’s literature project, the class studied the work of female ceramic artists, as well as variations on teapots. Student Francisco Catig focused on a favorite book, The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss. “Emphasis on this assignment was how to visualize their big idea or theme,” Jun explains.
John F. Kennedy High School student Sharon Galicia creates charcoal portraits, which her teacher Steve Mainini describes as “portrait work done in charcoal that depicts influential rock musicians that have made an impact on her.” He also highlighted student Angel Garcia’s portfolio, noting that “Angel's visual idea is to incorporate the moon in to her imagery, and to do so using a wide array of mediums.”
What’s clear in the exhibition is the educators’ leadership in fostering creativity, concentrated studies in fine art, and engagement with the local art community. According to Gardiner, “students from across the East Bay come to the Art Center for field trips all year long. Many teachers time their tours to happen in the spring so that students can see the wide range of work done by their peers.” In honor of the 50th anniversary of the student show, the Art Center is also featuring work by former and recent students and teachers who have made a big impact in the arts and education communities, as well as children’s artwork from the '40s and '50s.