by Dorothy Mai and Gregory Zarb
Eighty-four lucky aspiring art students get the chance each year to be displayed in the “Long Island’s Best: Young Artists at the Heckscher Museum” exhibit from March to April. 2017 will be the 21st anniversary of the exhibit.
Along with the 84 student works being displayed, for the first time ever, the Department of Education at the museum has set up a digital slideshow to display the two hundred twenty-two art pieces that weren’t selected for the exhibit at the museum so that every school is represented.
This exhibit allows high school students from all over Long Island to share their artworks through different types of media.
“They [the students] put a lot of work into their entries and we know we only have room for 80-ish works of art, so there’s always that number of kids that don’t get in. So this year, we realized that if they send a picture to us of their work of art, we could show it that way [slideshow], digitally,”Joy Weiner, the Director of Education and Public Programs, said. “At least there’s some consolation for them and their work is still being seen by visitors.”
The jurors for the artworks for the 2017 Long Island’s Best exhibit were Heckscher Museum Curator, Lisa Chalif and guest juror, Cindy Grimm, the Assistant Director at The Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum and Education Center.
“The high school show was conceived as a way of engaging the students more closely with the experience of being in the museum and tying it in with their art classes,” Chalif said. “It gives the students the experience of what it’s like to be like a professional artist.”
This was the first year the Chalif was joined by special guest juror Cindy Grimm from the Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor. “It was a really great experience, you know. We each had initial responses to different works and it was great coming from different perspectives,” Chalif said.
This isn’t the first time Grimm has had to judge artwork.
“I own my own photo gallery. I’ve been a professional photographer for over twenty years, and I’ve helped picked other artwork for other shows across the country.
The art pieces are judged based on creativity, styles, subjects, quality, and a professional-level of art through a broad range of media. This annual educational program allows high school students to connect their experiences at the Museum to their art making in the classroom.
“Everybody in the community loves this exhibit. The quintessential expectation was to inspire students who come to the museum,” Chalif said. “They come here. We inspire. They respond.”
Asante Mills, a Deer Park high school graduate, still remembers the day in 2015 when he found out his artwork would be displayed.
“I was sitting in art class waiting for the bell to ring when my teacher walked in all giddy,” he said. “She runs to me and gives me a hug, and tells me, ‘You were chosen for the museum.’ I couldn’t believe it.”