BY VANESSA LANGDON
For Your Niskayuna
NISKAYUNA — Niskayuna High School students act as gallery curators and docents for a Nisk-Art gallery exhibit featuring 3-D works.
They are part of the gallery club at the school — under the direction of club adviser and art teacher Stephen Honicki and district art director Kelly Jones. The gallery allows for students, faculty, staff and community members to get a feel for the artistic and see what work is being done in the art classrooms in every school building in the district.
The current exhibit features solely 3-D works created by students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The exhibit has 101 pieces filling the gallery housed in the high school’s art hallway. Pieces include sculpture, jewelry work, ceramics, pop art, and more.
“I think that considering it’s student work, in my opinion advanced student work, people should come and see what is being created,” said Rebecca Piascik, gallery club manager and senior at Niskayuna High School. “I think it’s really impressive.”
The work is selected by the art teachers in the district and then can be adjusted to fit space needs and to ensure a variety of pieces by the gallery club.
The club features five exhibits a year in the gallery. The 3-D pieces will be on display until March 24. A reception will be held on March 8 inviting the public and the artists into the school from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Receptions generally attract around 150 people, according to Piascik.
“We get here, we set up, we sit at desks and answer questions,” Piascik said of the gallery club’s typical reception duties.
The receptions feature snacks and music; Piascik hopes to have live music for the March 8 reception. The food angle of the club helped them expand their ranks this year from five members last year to about 20 this year.
“We had lollipops at the club fair this year and that made us explode,” Piascik said with a laugh.
The quick growth in number has made it harder for the club to organize working — before the intimate group all knew they had to be heavily involved to pull off an exhibit but now with their larger numbers people are less motivated according to Abby Wells, a sophomore gallery club member.
The fluctuating involvement does not affect the quality of the exhibits —- members work hard for two to three days to change over exhibits, getting inside the cases themselves to rearrange shelves and plan the next exhibit layout.
“We get teased sometimes because we’ll be putting up a show and kids will walk by saying ‘I like this exhibit’ when we’re in the case,” Piascik said of being confused as the art. She maintains that never posing to give them satisfaction is key.
But overall the students feel the Nisk-Art gallery brings the students together as they meander down the hallway going out of their way to see the artwork. Wells commented how often she sees students dragging their friends down the hall to show them their artwork. Piascik said that people will point out all the people they know that have work on display.
“Since artists are so secluded, and they don’t really leave this hallway, it’s nice to be noticed,” Piascik said.
Getting noticed by the students only happens after the student artists’ work is hand-picked by their teachers to be put on display — something that Alanna Deery, a senior, said is always an honor. Deery has two pieces in the current show: “Paper Project” and “Tea”.
“To be picked by a teacher to have your work seen by others is special,” Wells said.
She has one piece in the 3-D exhibit called “Dear Pot.” The name was the brainchild of Wells and Piascik. “It has deer antlers so I suggested a play on words,” Piascik said. “Ceramics are always hard to name.”
The group works hard to make a “professional” exhibit come to fruition — they are the curators not the artists so artistic talent is not required to be a member of the gallery club. The group’s public-relations officer, Vladimir Malcevic, has never taken an art class at the school and only considers himself a doodler.
The gallery club is truly preparing the students for work as a docent or art curator at a museum according to Barbara Colose, art department clerical assistant.
“This is operating a professional gallery within our school,” said Colose. “We don’t have wine and cheese we have punch and cheese, that’s the only difference.”