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Youthful artists shine in regional exhibit

The Road Less Traveled
Youthful artists shine in regional exhibit

Coexistence: Humans and Nature is a multi-dual exhibit, occurring in two places and involving two youngish presenter groups. The presenter groups are AK Teens: Future Curators, who chose the works on show and put the show together, and the actual artists of the works, high school students from across Western New York and all the way to Toronto, Canada, who submitted artwork upon invitation from the Albright-Knox Education Department. More than six hundred works were submitted, about sixty of which were selected for the exhibit. The works are shown, some at the Albright-Knox gallery (through May 17) and some at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, 1221 Main Street (through May 15).

Delayed Flight
Prehistoric Goldfish Hybrid
Carbon Footprint

All the artworks are on the theme—somehow or other—of humans and nature. It’s sometimes hard to see that theme in a given work, but no matter, it’s the quality of the work that counts, and there’s plenty of that to go around. Such as in two stunning photographic presentations—one in each show—of surely by chance remarkably similar subject matter and format. In both cases, triptychs—three related photos in one frame—of outdoor scenes, with dominant visual effects related to misty atmospherics. And in most cases—of the six photos in all—seemingly related to road travel. In all cases the misty atmospherics obscure the exact subject matter.

The works are by Alie Rutty of the Etobicoke School of the Arts, near Toronto, and Anna Olejniczak of Williamsville East High School. Rutty’s triptych is called Road Trip, but you have to look carefully to make out roadways. One of the photos looks like a Thomas Cole Hudson River School painting. Olejniczak’s, called The Road Less Traveled, includes one particularly striking photo of some kind of rope or cable, it looks like, strung high aloft between two stands of trees and somewhat overgrown—the rope or cable—with vines that hang from it. An image a little reminiscent of the regional iconic railroad high trestle over the Letchworth State Park gorge.

Aurora Xylia Derby from Buffalo Seminary has a carefully rendered drawing in charcoal, pencil, and gouache of a hybrid goldfish with pop eyes and filmy external tissue extensions that seem to be neither fin nor skin, seem superfluous, in fact. And Katherine Pratt from Kenmore West High School a linoleum ink print entitled Carbon Footprint (CO2), consisting of the literal and numerical elements of the chemical formula reformulated into an image of a human footprint. Lindsay Romeo from Lewiston-Porter High School has a bust statue of a woman whose head consists of mangled remnants of a Victorian-style birdcage, entitled Escape.

Emma McKie from Sweet Home High School has a wonderfully simple but complex image of what looks like a paper towel folded into an approximate form of paper airplane, held at the plane front end by a hand visible just to the wrist, and half-supported along the rest of the plane length maybe by a light breeze or maybe just the near-negligible stiffness strength of the towel paper. Simple but complex somewhat the way an actual wing—of bird or airplane—is simple but complex.

An enigmatic oil painting by Celeste Cares of the Etobicoke school is called The Provider. It shows a strange, unworldly or other-worldly child-like figure--a mix of infantile and adult elements--holding a dead bird. Signifying what precisely? Maybe nothing precisely, but open to a variety of allegorical interpretations. A haunting work, at any rate.

A surprising amount of skeleton-specific death imagery, but often in conjunction with new life or other vitality imagery. Straight skeleton—like the kind that might hang in a science classroom—in a charcoal drawing by Christine Patterson from Gowanda High School. Then a sculptural human rib cage and portion of spinal column forming a kind of tent sheltering a bird and nest with eggs by Meghan Ebert from Lewiston-Porter High School. And digital print x-ray photo of hands on a computer keyboard by Iyanna Taylor from the Charter High School for Applied Technologies.

Other excellent photos (amid lots more fine work) of a sunrise or sunset view of a power plant from a watery vantage point by Alan Szot, Fredonia High School, and human figures reflected in sedgy swamp water by Lauren Balbierz, Kenmore East.

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