Routt County students to showcase artwork at the Depot Art Center | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County students to showcase artwork at the Depot Art Center

— The annual Routt County Youth Art Show gives young artists a voice, and area youth have something to say.

The show, which will be featured as part of this month's First Friday Artwalk from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Depot Art Center, showcases what over 150 students from every elementary, middle and high school in Routt County have been working on throughout the year.

At the opening exhibition, there will be a family-friendly reception with live entertainment and refreshments.

"The kids have created work this year that is so vulnerable and exposes this side of themselves that is really beautiful and interesting," Steamboat Springs Arts Council Executive Director Kim Keith said. "The emotions are so raw in the pieces, which is fantastic because art really is a vehicle for self expression, and they certainly drive that vehicle through this exhibit."

Each school contributed a number of pieces based on its size, Keith said, and this will be the first year that kids will sell their art pieces. The walls of the Depot are now adorned with photography, watercolors, oil pastels, mixed media, oil, a large plastic tape installation and sculpture.

"Art allows children to share and reflect as they learn about themselves, each other and the world around them," said Rose Swenson, South Routt Elementary art teacher who has worked with students on projects for the Routt County Youth Art Show the past five years. "The ability to share their work in a public space with the community really makes them feel important and respected as a young artist."

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Kids of all ages are featured in the exhibition. Swenson said the work from South Routt young artists ranges from portraits to Georgie O'Keeffe-inspired pieces to drawings with texture to abstract expressionism with work inspired by Mark Rothko.

"Every year I try to challenge them as best I can, and they seem to always rise to that and surprise me with what they can do," Swenson said.

For a few of the pieces, she said the kids took part in a reflective video about their artistic purpose. A QR code is included with those pieces that can be scanned via an iPhone, allowing the video to show up and start playing on the phone.

"Having your voice heard is what makes art meaningful," Steamboat Springs High School art teacher Lisa Derning said. "Creativity is not just a thought, it's about the process and how you implement that process."

For this year's projects, Derning said her students were inspired by the idea or thought behind a creation and how they can get that original intent across. In addition to a variety of medium including self portraits, drawings, paintings and collages, Steamboat High artists will display their first installation entitled, "Listen."

Senior students created the project, which involved experimenting with plastic tape using small objects and embedding social commentary and artistic voice into the installation. The students did this by creating the tape sculptures then identified places around town that would reinforce their ideas and took photos of their sculptures for the installation.

"The installation is all about finding your voice," Derning said. "I think the students really bonded and worked well together by adding or subtracting from their piece to make the statements stronger."

In conjunction with the show, the Steamboat Springs Arts Council will offer an after-school craft time from 3:30 to 5 p.m. every Thursday with textile materials from Create Space.

Craft themes include, "Fluffy pom-poms," "Easy Weave," "3D Shapes" and "Push-pin String Art." Each session is $15 per person, and full scholarship are available with a written request. Registration is required.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: Steamboat Springs Arts Council presents the Routt County Youth Art Show

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 1

Where: Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.