Charlie McGill has been drawing Athlete of the Week portraits for six decades.
Chris Pedota, NorthJersey
The walls of the Riverside Gallery were lined with abstract, impressionist, pop art.
They weren’t the typical pieces that the professional art gallery, tucked away upstairs in the Riverside Square mall in Hackensack, has for sale for up to $30,000, but instead made by teenagers looking to express themselves.
The opportunity for high school seniors to showcase their work in a once-in-a-lifetime setting Thursday night was priceless.
“I just can’t explain it. It’s such a great opportunity to experience something like this that a lot of artists may never get to do,” said Joyce Kang, a Palisades Park High School senior and Riverside Gallery intern. “It drives us and makes us work harder to hopefully one day get to experience this again.”
This is the second year that the high school students made the transition from showing their art in a professional setting at Riverside Square in Hackensack instead of a hallway or cafeteria. The partnership began when students asked about internships and partnered with the gallery.
“When it was at the high school, you really couldn’t appreciate the art,” said Korinne Sterni, an art teacher. “We went from having 15 parents show up to over 200 people here.”
There were more than 150 art pieces displayed by 73 students, representing every level of art class. Senior Yubin Im described her artwork as an “acid trip without drugs.” She said she likes to create new, confusing things that draw attention.
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For other students, like Yelleen Lee, the point was release and self-expression. Lee said she creates her paintings when she is facing difficult situations. “I’m able to express the hope that I keep in my heart,” she said.
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Gallery owner S.J. Yoon said she looked forward to the student showcase, which is a way to inspire the next generation of young artists.
The lessons were not lost on Kang, who plans to study illustration in college and knows the lack of respect faced by artists.
“Art is very looked down upon,” Kang said. “When you say you’re majoring in art, it’s not the same reaction you get if you say doctor or lawyer.”
Despite the stigma, Kang said, she hopes the art show inspires shy students who are looking for a way to express themselves.
“I hope this gallery helps show them that it’s OK to show your art and be proud of it,” Kang said. “It doesn’t have to be fine art. Art is like beauty and it’s very vague. No one has the right to judge you. I hope this encourages others to open up more and see they can have this opportunity too one day.”
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