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A Busy Opening Weekend for This Is Us Art Exhibit

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A Busy Opening Weekend for This Is Us Art Exhibit

A Busy Opening Weekend for 'This Is Us' Art Exhibit

On Friday, May 6, Avon Old Farms students, staff, and alumni crowded into the Ordway Art Gallery with dozens of other student artists from other local schools and their teachers and families, faculty members from college art programs, and other local art enthusiasts for the opening of the ‘This Is Us’ art exhibit.

An opening reception took place beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the Ordway Art Gallery in the Beatson Performing Arts Center on Avon Old Farms School’s campus. 

Students from 12 schools have pieces showcased in the exhibit, including Avon Middle School, Avon High School, Bristow Middle School of West Hartford, Ethel Walker School, Irving A. Robbins Middle School, Kingswood Oxford School, Miss Porter’s School, Renbrook School, Farmington High School, Conard High School, and Westminster School.

Four AOF students had work included as well. Those students were 11th graders Alex Green, Josh Hunter and Yann Broc, and 12th grader Adham Nassar. 

For Broc, this was the first time having his art displayed in an art show. 

“It’s the first time, so it feels good,” Broc said. 

His featured piece is a self-portrait drawn with pencil for a project in a drawing course taught by Gregory Calibey. He said he hopes this is the first step in a future career as an artist. 

Serena Roche, an 11th grader at Conard High School, was equally proud to showcase a piece she had made in her ceramics class. The perfectly-shaped plate was covered in hand-painted cherry blossoms, as an homage to her Japanese ethnicity. 

“I can’t wait to take it home,” Serena Roche said, before posing for a photo taken by her dad, Peter. 

“I’m very proud,” Peter Roche said. 

He indicated that it wasn’t just the artwork on display that impressed him. 

“My son plays hockey, so we’ve come here for games before, but I’ve never seen any other part of campus,” Peter Roche said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Even the AOF students themselves left an impression. 

“A few of the students here have already come up and introduced themselves which was really nice,” Peter Roche said. 

For Nicole Peeney, it was her first time ever visiting the school. She said she was blown away. 

“It’s beautiful,” Nicole Peeney said. 

Her daughter, Brigid, is in 8th grade at Bristow Middle School. Her piece, Lost in Letterland, is a painting that depicts the profile of a girl, surrounded by a jumbling of letters. 

“The artwork from these students is incredible,” Nicole Peeney said. “They’re very talented.”

Representatives from colleges and universities in the state were in attendance as well, including John Richardson, of UConn’s School of Fine Arts, and Robert Calafiore and Roxy Ryan, of the University of Hartford Art School.

Ryan was impressed by what she called a “nice, diverse group of works.”

“I have to say some of the middle school student works are really good,” Ryan said. “I knew the older students would impress, but some of these middle school pieces really stood out.”

She also complimented the art facilities at AOF and called the campus “stunning.”

“I wish I could work in your studios,” Ryan said.

The opening reception included music from the student-comprised jazz combo group, the Winged Beaver Experience, and an ice cream buffet courtesy of Ben and Jerry’s. 

The event was organized by Visual Arts Chairperson Cristina Pinton, who explained the meaning behind the "This is Us" name.

"We chose the theme 'This is Us' as a phrase that would honor each individual student artist’s thoughts and opinions on the world, themselves, and their community. Whether the work centers on defining self identity or relationships, reflections on contemporary issues and challenges, or visions and hopes of what could be, the core message is that student voices count. Their imagery sheds light on their truth. Their artwork is an opportunity to tap into our empathetic selves and see the world through their eyes,” Pinton said. 

She was assisted by members of the National Art Honor Society in organizing the event, including AOF 12th grader Linhao Jiang. 

Jiang said that leading up to the event, he assisted artists in collecting their works and helped with hanging the pieces and overall arrangement of the exhibition. 

"It is a pleasure to see Avon host such a magnificent art exhibition," Jiang said. "The show is an excellent opportunity for artists from various schools and age groups to interact."

Pinton took a moment at Friday’s reception to thank everyone in attendance, as well as all the students that had pieces included. 

“You are so incredibly special and your ability to envision, create, feel, be courageous and problem solve and imagine are the key skills to any job you hold in this life,” Pinton said.

“The artwork speaks profoundly to those that stop, pause in their tracks, and become a part of a conversation with a sculpture, a photograph, a tiny little painting, a digital illustration, whatever it is that touches us somehow,” Pinton continued. “That’s what I love so much about these events. The magic that happens when we all have our own little conversation with a piece of imagery. It is both an intimate and communal experience all at once.”

Also in attendance was Head of School Jim Detora P’12, who praised Pinton and the rest of her team for organizing such a great event. 

“I just think this is a great way to bring the community together,” Detora said. 

For anyone that missed the opening weekend of the art exhibit, the show will remain open to the public until May 15, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. or by appointment with Cristina Pinton (860) 404-4183.

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