Student art show shines with contemporary talent

Gabe Heebner, a senior at HVRHS, was awarded “Best in Show” at the student art show at the KAA on Saturday, Feb. 10.

Leila Hawken

Student art show shines with contemporary talent

Now well into its 101st year of serving the community, the nonprofit Kent Art Association (KAA) opened its 32nd annual student art show Saturday, Feb. 10, attracting student artists, their teachers and the arts community to celebrate the wealth of young talent being nurtured in area public and private schools.

Participating in this year’s show were students from seven area schools, including Millbrook (New York) High School, Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS), Forman School, Marvelwood School, The Frederick Gunn School, The Hotchkiss School and The Kent School.

“We’re here to encourage, support and mentor regional talent,” said Debbie Shiflett-Fitton, KAA manager, speaking of the organization’s ongoing mission since it was founded in 1923.

The current show has been co-chaired by Carl Chaiet and Mike Spross. Key to the story of the student art show was the deep commitment of the late Constance Horton, who served as KAA president and is to be credited with beginning the student art show tradition. Spross recalled that he began by coming to the art show, then participating as a teacher, and is now hosting the show.

“There’s no getting around it,” said Chaiet. “Each year the artwork gets better.”

“People have no idea what to expect. It’s contemporary, using new technologies,” Chaiet said. Speaking of the young artists, he added, “They are up on everything.”

Seeing the show as a great experience, Michelle Cring, who teaches art at Millbrook High School, attended the exhibit with her husband and son, Maxwell, 1. She praised the value of gathering students’ works from area schools, noticing the variety of themes and materials. Maxwell seemed to prefer the more colorful entries.

One participating student, Ellie Wolgemuth, a junior at HVRHS, used conte, first introduced to the art world in France as a drawing medium in 1795. It is a powdered medium, harder than pastels or charcoal, that is mixed with a clay base, said to mix better in contact with paper.

Art teacher Warren Prindle was circled by his HVRHS students, using the exhibit as a teaching moment while appreciating and celebrating their achievements.

“We have motivated and talented students,” Prindle said, adding that the quality of the HVRHS art program is greatly enhanced by his colleague, Patricia Vanicky, who specializes in teaching photography and sculpture.

One work from each participating school was selected by the judges for top honor and awarded a certificate. For HVRHS, the honor went to Finian Malone; for The Kent School, Phoena Dadson; for Millbrook High School, Sarah Marchant; for The Hotchkiss School, Quisha Lee; for The Frederick Gunn School, Jake Pellicane and Tobin Connell; for Marvelwood School, Sebastian Killin; and for Forman School, Llewelyn Davis.

The exhibit will continue through Friday, Feb. 23. For more information, go to

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