VCA is pleased to host its Biennial Student Show. This year the exhibition is art by 19 students from Kristen Adams Advance Placement art class at Vashon High School. The students have spent the school year creating art for their portfolio which is being reviewed by College Boards. This exhibition is a sampling of their work and a celebration of the completion of the year-long project. 

In the early 1990s, Vashon Center for the Arts and Vashon High School collaborated to establish a biennial tradition of exhibiting student art at the end of the school year. Typically, graduating seniors created the work and submitted it to the gallery to be hung for the opening of the popular show. This year is different. From start to finish, students were involved with the whole process of making, framing, hanging and installing their artwork in the gallery for a show.

Lynann Politte, gallery director at Vashon Center for the Arts and Kristen Adams, art teacher at Vashon High School (VHS), created a new approach -  a practicum to teach students about the world of art outside the studio. Through one of VCA's Vashon Artists in the Schools (VAIS) residency, Politte first provided the 19 students — juniors, seniors and a few sophomores — in Adams’ Advanced Placement (AP) art class with information about art careers in general, then focused on the requirements of an art gallery in particular.  

Next was to work with them to decide what they wanted to show in the exhibition. The artwork is part of the portfolio students assemble for college applications in Adams’ AP class. Previously, portfolios were developed in a variety of classes such as ceramics, drawing and painting. Adams advocated for an AP program that would bring art students together in one class to foster an art community, and she said, there has been major growth in enrollment since then.

Originally, Politte envisioned giving each student a set space to hang their art. That was before she heard what they wanted to show. Politte worked with each student, talking through their options on how they could frame and hang their work, which includes digital art, photography, mixed media and fiber arts, as well as paintings and drawings. With sponsorship provided by Vashon Thriftway, students were provided the materials to frame two-dimensional pieces and install three-dimensional art. From there they came to the gallery and worked together to lay out the show as a group to make the atrium wall a collection exhibition of all their work together.

For Politte, it's all about “helping students to start an art career. We have students who are so talented, I want to send them off with experience and information.”

Adams agrees, adding that she’s been “completely blown away not only by their enthusiasm for this opportunity but also for their willingness to jump right in and get going. Despite the limitations and challenges they've been navigating with school closure and the COVID pandemic, these students have wholeheartedly embraced this class and the opportunities that came with it, resulting in some incredible art and experiences for us all. They are truly outstanding in their creativity and dedication to their work.”

View virtual tour of June gallery shows