Last week I had the opportunity to visit two Berkeley student art shows: one at Berkeley High and another at Franklin Preschool. The shows covered the full spectrum of student artistry, but both were gratifying and impressive in their own right. In both I found abstract thinking, narrative explorations, self-reflection, and out-of-the-box creativity. I also found evidence of incredible teaching.
Walking through Berkeley High’s extensive gallery space, one is struck by the sheer size and volume of the high school pieces. Two floors of the Community Theater are covered with giant artwork: bedroom scenes, painted bathtubs, an archway covered in (real) plants that you can walk through. Smaller paintings and delicate woven pieces dot the walls. The show is broken into themed areas, including spaces for Identity, Politics and Culture, Imagination, Psychology, and Science. And every piece and its accompanying description was beautifully executed and thought out.
Franklin teacher Gladys Biscocho also created an expansive art show in her classroom, supplied with materials from a Schools Fund Classroom Grant. Partitions divided the room, and each student was given a panel to display a photo, their name, and a painting or two. Different walls displayed students’ other art projects, including a wall for Q-Tip Painting, shape art inspired by “Perfect Square” by Michael Hall, Self-Portraits, 3-D Sculptures, and gigantic painted flowers.
While assignments were clearly different for the preschoolers and high schoolers, and of course technique is much more refined with time, I was struck by how truly artistic both sets were. Check out some side-by-side examples below to see how wonderfully creative the projects were.
Becoming an artist is a lifelong pursuit, but Berkeley students have a serious advantage. The quality of art teaching, the dedication to sharing work with the community, and the professionalism with which their work is treated elevates every artist, from preschool to high school.