By Joseph Wolkin and Jhacquelle Swaby
A brunette eleventh-grader standing at 5 feet and 1 inch tall walked into the Heckscher Museum of Art with her parents and grandmother with a giant smile on her face.
She was eager to tell the visitors how Henry Patrick Raleigh’s “Woman with Man Standing at Party” had influenced her art.
“It’s incredible, especially since all of these pieces are so beautiful and I just feel really honored to be one of them,” Sarah Kendrick, who is a student at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, said. “I wanted to reinterpret the original [painting] and do it for the modern day, including what the woman was thinking to add another layer to her personality.”
Following the Heckscher Museum of Art’s 21st annual art show for 84 Long Island high schoolers, some of the framed pieces will not just go back home with the students. Instead, they will be on display at Mitchells in Huntington, sitting on display by the store’s main windows.
The exhibit, which ended on Sunday after a month-long show, gives students the opportunity to boost their resumes entering college and exposes them to the world of modern art.
With 56 participating high schools and 387 submissions, the chosen students were given a great opportunity to be featured in the museum.
“I think that having their artwork chosen to be hung up in a nationally-recognized museum is very prestigious for their work when they apply to college and put it in their portfolio,” Joy Weiner, Director of Education and Public Programs, said. “Students are starting to tackle social issues. It’s really a positive thing for students to be creating this type of artwork.”
A handful of students came out with awards from Huntington Fine Arts, a professional art school dedicated to helping young artists find their niche.
Among the many pieces to be featured in the museum there is a portrayal of President Donald Trump alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, with protesters holding signs saying, “not my president,” along with sculptures, hand-made pots and other items that made viewers shocked to see they were made by adolescents.
“This is the best show of the year as far as I’m concerned,” Margy Hargraves, who was touring the museum, said. “It helps them getting into colleges and art school. It’s amazing, and it’s the sophistication at the level that they do it at. They do beautiful work.”
Prior to entering the exhibition, students were told they needed to design a piece of art that inspired them at the Heckscher Museum.
The honor of inspiring students is something that permanent artists at the museum live for, longtime artist Larry Aarons said. Artists in the permanent slots want the students to not only feel encouraged by their work, but also to continue contributing to the art world.
“I’m completely overwhelmed by it,” Aarons said. “I have three students who were inspired by my art. I’m the only artist that had three students that thought enough of it. For me, it is spectacular that students can look at something and be so emotionally touched by the simplest of designs.”