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Talented RHS students' artwork on display at Russellville Public Library

One doesn’t need to fly to the Louvre this summer to view great pieces of art. For much of May, some great local artwork will be on display here in Franklin County, as the Russellville High School Art Department is presenting a student art exhibit, hosted by the Russellville Public Library, until May 23.

The artworks, displayed throughout the library, were created in a number of mediums from paintings to charcoal to etchings and more, and were made by students at all grade levels at Russellville High School.

“This is a culmination of all of the art classes and all the art that we’ve created this year,” said Russellville High School art teacher Melissa Grissom. “We probably have around 80 pieces right now.”

Students created art depicting scenes in nature, as well as portraits of people and pets.

“We’ve got watercolor paintings that we did in our painting class, pastel drawings, and we’ve got pet portraits that the students did of their own pets,” Grissom said. “We’ve got portraits—charcoal drawings—of people that they know. Most of them chose a family member or someone close to them. We’ve also got etchings and ink drawings and a little bit of everything.”

One student, Madai Antonio Galvez, a junior at RHS, submitted a pastel work of her late pet cat.

“It’s my cat that died a few years ago, and since we were doing pets, I just wanted to capture my cat in the moment when I first found her,” Galvez said. “(Pastel) would show more of what I wanted to give it because of the texture and the things I gave it with the feathers and the eye.”

Galvez said it was gratifying to work on the project and to try new things in the process.

“The fur, it was really exciting to experiment to see how I would want it to go on her skin and the eyes, as well. You want to make it perfect and also give it what she was feeling at that moment,” she said.

Galvez, endeared to art from an early age, said she’s glad to be a part of the art program. It gives her an outlet to express herself in a way she enjoys.

“It’s really fun and it makes me happy, as well, because I get to put all my passion into it,” she said. “I’ve really loved art since I was a little kid, and now I’ve gotten to grow up with art. I’m so happy to put all my passion into something that I love.”

Galvez’s decision to create her art in that specific medium was her choice, but students in the art program are exposed to a number of mediums, techniques, and styles, starting with the basics, Grissom said.

“We always try to start out with the basics of the elements and principles of art, and then we try to introduce some basic drawing techniques, sometimes using a graph, looking at other artists, and breaking it down to a simple level,” she said. “Once you get the basics, you can carry it over into whatever type of art you’re creating, whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpting, or whatever it may be.”

Grissom said she is thankful for the collaboration with the library in putting on the exhibit, which began on May 7, and hopes that it will not only allow the public to appreciate the artistic talent of the students but prove to be a benefit to the community, as well.

“We were proud that the library invited us to let us display the art. I think it’s good for the community and good for the students in letting them show what they’re doing in these creative-type classes,” Grissom said. “Not every school has art, and if this inspires one educator to come in and say, ‘We need this at our school,’ that would be great.”

“I think it’s good for the community to see what the students actually do when they’re in an art class,” she added. “No matter if you’re two or 102 (years old), you can learn to create art, so it’s never too late to do whatever you want to do. Hopefully someone can get inspiration from the exhibit.”

The art exhibit will be on display during normal Russellville Public Library operating hours, Monday through Friday, from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M., until the exhibit ends on May 23.

“I highly encourage everyone to stop by the Russellville Public Library to see first-hand the hard work and artistic talent that is housed within the RHS Art Program. We are privileged to have a school system that encourages our children to express themselves with art and offers this program so that they can do so,” library director Joshlyn Bowen said. “Stop by during our normal hours of operation to see for yourself the talent that surrounds us within the youth of our community.”

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