By Julie McCay Turner
For the past 20 years volunteers have hung a massive show at Bedford High School on the first weekend in May. Every child from Kindergarten through eighth grade and any high school student taking an art class has at least one piece of art work in the show.
Beginning on Friday evening and continuing through the weekend, the community is invited to visit Bedford High School to view the extensive show. The exhibit will be on view Friday, May 2, from 6 until 9 pm; on Saturday, May 3, from 10 am until 4 pm; and on Sunday, May 3, from 11 am until 3 pm. There is no admission fee, and the building is fully accessible.
The K-12 Art Show’s origins rest with ArtLink, the brainchild of Susannah Natti, Ronnie Gould and Mary Johannessen who sought to enhance education in the arts and to “help students develop their visual voice,” according to Johannessen.
The individual installations where BHS senior class art students showcase their work are particularly important to Johannessen. “It gives these graduating students a place to shine,” she said.
Among other projects in past years, ArtLink created a huge quilt representing all of the then-current students at Lane School, brought visiting Artists in Residence to Bedford schools, and operated a well-loved miniature golf course on Bedford Day.
Former School Committee member Ellen Waldron noted that she’s not an artist but understood the importance of the ideas behind ArtLink and the all-student show. She helped to secure the support of then-Superintendent Joseph Buckley and Art Department chair Tony Pilla. “It was a wonderful time for volunteers in Bedford,” Waldron recalled. “We were all on the same page, so we rolled up our sleeves and collaborated to get things done.”
Sculptor Ronnie Gould is pleased that the art show has become part of the fabric of Bedford. In an email interview she said, “It was our intention 20 years ago to elevate and share with the community the importance of the creative visual spirit in our children in a non-competitive event.
“After the first couple of years,” Gould continued, “it was apparent that the students looked forward to the opportunity to exhibit their work. I believe they saw themselves as part of the greater community and developed a level of pride in their work. It was always about inclusion, celebration, and the joy of creating.”
Susanna Natti remembers “literally dancing with excitement as we hung the first show, seeing the walls turn from bare to riotous with color. I could barely contain myself and I was so blown away by the varied, beautiful, impressive, telling, sweet, surprising artwork.”
One of Natti’s favorite anecdotes about one of the first festivals was looking at the written comments on a big presentation pad that was out in the lobby. A lot were very encouraging and full of praise, but the one that caught her attention was written by a beginning speller, probably a first grader: “I licked them all!” “I knew the intended word was “liked,” said Natti, “but I thought that comment captured the enthusiasm of the participants and the viewers.”
It’s not too late to volunteer to help with the 2014 show. If you are available this weekend, please use the following link to sign up www.SignUpGenius.com/go/904054FACA62B0-bedford.