By Casey Hans
Huron High School senior Nick Freese was eager to participate in this year’s Ann Arbor Public Schools K-12 Art Exhibition with a self-portrait that reflects his love of nature and has a bit of whimsy.
In the portrait, he is upside down and becoming part of a tree – roots and all. Freese’s work is among dozens of student works that continue on display through this week at the University of Michigan Slusser Gallery on North Campus.
Freese’s 3-by-4 foot artwork uses acrylics, plus spray paint and markers to achieve the final result. He said the portrait was based on a class project that “was supposed to be reflective.” He based his work on a photo taken by a friend, and let it develop from there.
“”My belief that everything is one in nature and everything is constantly moving,” he said, describing how he approached his art. Freese said he hopes to someday be an art teacher.
“My mom’s an artist – it skipped a generation,” explained Nick’s mom, Beth Freese, who attended an opening reception with her son. “He thinks everything through and then acts. He’s always had a plan.”
Pottery, paintings, jewelry and mixed media are all represented in the district’s largest student art show of the year that through this weekend. Exhibit hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 7 p.m. Saturdays. The Slusser Gallery is in the U-M School of Art & Design Building, 2000 Bonisteel Blvd., just off of Fuller.
Works from AAPS students in all grades are represented in the show and, for the first time, all elementary schools have a presence, said director of this year show, Chris Cerniglia, an art teacher at Scarlett Middle School.
Organizers had to balance the amount of art by school to find space for the extra 18 schools. “This year, we were happy to include every elementary school,” said Cerniglia, who coordinated the hanging of the show. “I think that’s what so powerful here: It’s a full district show. Rebuilding that feel is kind of neat. (Students) were all excited about trying to get into it. It just exposes them to more and more.”
Cerniglia said the show is also continuing to build a relationship with the university, which has graciously allowed the district in the Slusser Gallery for the second year.
Huron High School graphic design teacher Jason Treece had his students design art show posters for a third year. They promote the event, but are also on display as artwork at the show.
He said students judged each other’s work and came up with four solid designs; all are on display.
“I only chose what the students liked,” he said. “This was their thing. I was really tickled. Each year it gets a little bit better.”
In addition to the student show, the Ann Arbor Art Teachers Spring 2011 exhibition runs through June 10 at the Work Gallery, 306 S. State St.