“Young Voices” Come Together for Student Art Show in Ferndale
(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 11, 2022)
Ferndale, MI – One of Izzy Kropogs favorite assignments was to make a paining inspired by multiple artists. The hands reaching out to touch was inspired by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. The background is from Munch’s The Scream. And the sky is a mix of VanGogh’s Starry Night and Magritte’s The False Mirror.
Kropog hopes to one day design exhibits like those seen at museums and zoos. “I love art because it’s a way to do something that takes your mind off everything else.”
That ability for art to calm the mind is one of the reasons why the Southeast Oakland Coalition hosted the “Young Voices” art opening at Level One Bank in Ferndale On April 7. The exhibit featured over 40 student artists from Ferndale High School, University High School and CASA which includes kids from multiple area school districts.
“Our mission is substance abuse prevention,” said Executive Director Carol Jackson. “We need to teach students to express themselves through art. It helps them express their feelings and it helps other people tell if they are happy or if they are troubled. It’s an opportunity to reach out and talk about the feelings in the art.”
For Gwenyvere Hames of Berkley, a student at CASA, her digital art represents mental illness and what happens when someone represses their emotions. “I know that’s kind of cliché, but I thought how can I take that cliché and make it my own.” Hames said making digital art on her phone helps her to stay focused in class because she’s not distracted by other things. “I get permission from the teachers and it really helps,” she said.
It also helps to express her feelings. “It’s not just people who have mental illness who have problems,” she said. “Everyone can get mentally ill if they hold their feelings in. We’re raised to hold our feelings in, and not get angry or not be sad. But everyone has those feelings and we can’t just hold them in.”
The Young Voices opening grew out of The Artist in You program that Jackson helped with as part of what was then called the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce (now South Oakland Area Regional Chamber). Emily Bellaver was one of the earliest participants when she was a student at FHS. This year she was excited to volunteer her time as one of the judges for the competition.
“I’m thinking of where I was at that age and I’m so impressed with what these students are doing. This is professional quality work,” Bellaver said. “This is deep, internal stuff. The subjects are substantial.”
Bellaver looked for basic skills, as well as creativity in using materials. “These are students. They don’t have a lot of money for supplies, but they are doing what they can with what they have. Basic colored pencils, and found objects. I’m impressed with everyone’s mastery over the materials.”
The Ferndale Community Foundation provided grant funding for the awards, with first place winners getting $150 prize, $100 for second place, and $50 for third. There were prizes at the high school and middle school levels, with awards for photography, 2d and 3d art.
The event also featured poetry, with UHS student Jazlyn Coles reciting “Simply Unique.” Coles has been doing inspirational speaking since the age of 15, and was featured in the City of Ferndale’s Juneteenth celebration last year. Her plan is to join the Army to pay for her education and become a Public Affairs Specialist. “I like talking about God and faith,” she said. “I talk about believing in yourself, having confidence because confidence is key, and knowing that you can believe in yourself. Always know it will get better.”
The exhibit will remain on display at Level One Bank’s galley space at 22635 Woodward Ave through the end of the month. To learn more about Southeast Oakland Coalition, visit https://www.facebook.com/seocmi/.
Thank you to Jim Shaffer & Associates Realtors for sponsoring this section!