More than 250 high school students had the opportunity to present their artwork at the third annual ArtReach exhibition, “The Art of Pop Culture,” on March 7.
Many of the art pieces depicted the direct effect the media has on different issues such as body image, consumerism, materialism, drug abuse, addiction and narcissism.
“I think it’s so important to the development of the individuals to be able to express themselves creatively,” said Lugene Whitley, ArtReach curator.
“Doing something on this scale demonstrates to the community how important art and arts education is,” she said.
A large supportive crowd filled with artists, students, families and the general public flooded the Millard Sheets Art Center to view the artwork.
“Transforming the gallery itself is a huge effort and we have tons of volunteers that help get the gallery ready, along with the Fairplex staff,” said Thomas Canavan, Arts Center Manager.
Cash prizes are awarded to the winners of Best in Show, and first through third places in the paintings category, other 2D artworks, 3D artworks, photography, digital art and special installations. Students have the option of selling their work, in which they receive 70 percent of the profits while 30 percent goes to the ArtReach program.
Some pieces had uplifting messages about pop culture and the media, while others showed the consequences of the media having power.
“My inspiration for my art piece had to do with the way I was growing up and seeing graffiti on the streets,” said Anthony Lopez, a senior at Kaiser High School.
His artwork was created by DecoColor and Prismacolor art markers and depicted a graffiti artist writing “street smART” on a wall.
Sindy Sanchez, a senior at San Dimas High School, took a different approach with her artwork titled “Synchronized,” as she used acrylics to paint a woman’s mind being taken over by social media using brand names.
“My artwork shows the synchronizing of trash (brand names) inside your brain, like you are downloading them in a way until it starts taking over, resulting in all your thoughts being transformed,” Sanchez said.
ArtReach also supports the Career and Technical Education Center, which is part of the Learning Centers at Fairplex. It provides students with free education in the arts and show-case the CTEC students art.
“ArtReach elevates the opportunity that high school students have to experience positive development outcomes and something like this is very few and far between,” Canavan said. “Our goal is to expand our educational programming at the elementary, middle, high school and college level, and provide year round art exhibitions.”
ArtReach 2014 will run through March 19 at the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts at the Fairplex in Pomona.
Erum Jaffrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.