Art students exhibit at gallery

Published 9:15 pm Thursday, February 2, 2017

Imagine being named the best at something the first time you’ve done it.

That was the situation in which Sarah Rhodes, a King’s Fork High School student, found herself on Thursday during the opening reception for the Exhibit of Excellence, the Suffolk Art League’s annual juried exhibition of artwork by Suffolk’s high school sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Rhodes won best in show for her embroidery piece titled “Angela.”

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“This is the first time I’ve ever done embroidery, so it was experimenting at first,” she said.

She did the piece as an independent project assigned at school. It took her about a month, she said, and she was shocked when they said she had been named best in show.

Mary Catherine Langston, a Lakeland High School student, won first place with her mixed-media work, “Inferno Leo,” a depiction of a lion on fire.

“I wanted it to stand out from everybody else’s,” she said. “I wanted to represent bravery and courage because it’s a lion, and it’s on fire.” It took her about three weeks to complete the piece, she said.

Kempton Davis of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy won second place with a cut paper and Sharpie work titled “Man, That’s a LOT of Pencils.”

“It was frustrating,” he said of the representation of many pencils with different designs. “It was tedious, with all the small designs. It was a fun project. It just took a lot of time to do.”

Jennifer Kleps of Nansemond River High School won third place with her acrylic-on-newspaper representation of rapper Kodak Black, titled “The Finesse Kid.”

“His music has inspired a lot of people,” she said.

The juror for the show was Seth Feman, the curator of exhibits and photography at the Chrysler Museum.

“it was a real treat to get to see the kinds of work you all are creating,” he said. “It was really hard to start making a selection. It was a good challenge to have.”

He urged the young artists to think about why they’re using the materials they’re using.

“It’s not just what’s available; it’s a decision that you made,” he said.

Suffolk Art League Executive Director Linda Bunch said there were more than 200 entries for the show, which Feman got the near-impossible task of narrowing down to about 97 to fit into the space.

“We are always impressed with the artwork that our students do,” Bunch said. “Education in the arts is so important to a well-rounded education.”

The show, which is sponsored in conjunction with the Suffolk Fine Arts Commission, is on display through March 3. The Suffolk Art Gallery, located at 118 Bosley Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.