The newest exhibit at Shippensburg Arts Programming & Education, “Prism,” gives local high school students their own voice.

For art educator Sarah Maclay, this was an opportunity for the community to learn what students have to say about the world they live in.

SHAPE hosted the exhibit opening last Friday for the selected works of 11 SASHS advanced art students.

Maclay, who’s been involved with the annual gallery for about five years, says she encourages students to find their personal voice, but also take risks – push themselves a little further to take something of passion and figure out how to best visually express how they want others to think about this passion. She said the group is very supportive and empathetic of each others' work, as well as very diverse and content-driven.

“It's neat to see how invested they are in finally saying it, putting their voice out there,” Maclay said. “It's very soul satisfying.”

She also said the group has developed the skill of appropriating through the class.

“They do find influences, but then they've been really good at synthesizing into their own voice, so in art, we call that appropriating.”

SHAPE Vice President Anne Cherry labeled this exhibit as one of SHAPE’s most attended nights, counting more than 100 people who walked through the doors to check out more than 100 featured works of art.

Lanie Vevasis crafted a series of nine masks that were spread throughout the gallery. One of her first masks, a hyena mask she crafted for the middle school's “Lion King” performance, is part of the exhibit.

Whether it be a god or some mythical creature, all of her masks represent different cultures. Her interest in the topic stems from watching science and travel shows, which have led her to research these different cultural masks.

“I hope that people see the inspirations of other cultures,” she said, “Here in Shippensburg, it's a small town. You only see really American art, or something of the sort, but (with my work,) you see masks inspired by other cultures to see what is out there, to see things you don't see everyday.”

Kayley Gutshall displayed various pieces of pottery, all with different female names like “Bertha.” Her pottery was concentrated on the topic of body image, crafting each vessel with different body shapes and with the overarching goal of showing people to be appreciative of who they are. One may be short and stout while another may be tall and skinny, but all are beautiful with all of their different shapes and colors.

“Once it goes from this awful looking lump, and you can just form it into whatever you want,” she said about pottery. “That's the best part for me. You can make so many different things. It's not just like anything. It's nice to have all this work that you can hang and stuff. But pottery is useful, you make it whatever you want.”

Zoé Williard had six embroidery hoops hanging from a wooden beam that featured a transformation, starting with the stitching of a crouching muscular man, ready to sprint, and ending with the stitching of a plant. The piece represented the transformation from hyper-masculinity to hyper-feminism and was called, “Metamorphosis.” Zoé explained her art depicts how men are involved in feminism, too.

During a summer trip to Italy, Madelyn Facchinei took some photos with her cell phone – never with the intention of having them become an inspiration for her art. One of her stops was the Duomo di Siena cathedral in Siena, Italy, which she used as the focus of two separate sculptures titled, “Duomo” and “Siena,” made of a combination of wood, ceramic and acrylic.

Each piece featured different parts of the cathedral. She found the different landmarks to possess a certain beauty that made the experience of recreation enjoyable.

There is no clear-cut theme or genre in “Prism,” and the advanced art students showcased a little bit of everything.

With the use of acrylic and ceramic, Kayleigh Norman created a pack of Newport cigarettes titled, “A Breath of Death Air.” Abby Williard had a whole space to herself that featured multiple graphite sketchings. Nicole Weaver exhibited nine acrylic paintings called, “Sins and Salvation,” that came together and connected the same woman in each piece — but with a different animal in each one. Asia Feathers took a different avenue and had a laptop full of animated GIF art.

“It's weird to think about in terms of the scope of art history: Has everything that could be done, been done? So art becomes a very personalized experience,” Maclay said.

The event was sponsored by Cabin on King and Pizza House. Students provided cookies, fruit, vegetables and other refreshments for the opening.

The exhibit will remain open through March 30 at 19 E. King St., and then the work of Jim Mackey’s mixed media will take over SHAPE in April.

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