Student artists share their view in annual Portland show

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PORTLAND — The work of nine Portland students is being featured at the Portland Museum of Art’s annual Student Art Month exhibit.

Among the works on display is a multimedia portrait of Sylvia Rivera, who was an early activist in the lesbian-gay-trans movement in late 1960s and early 1970s New York City.

The portrait is by Grace Connolly, a junior at Deering High School.

Rivera, born Ray Rivera Mendosa, joined the Gay Activists Alliance and was a key figure in the campaign to pass New York City’s first gay rights bill, according to the LGBT History Month website.

The Youth Art Month exhibit showcases more than 90 works of art from K-12 students throughout the state and will be on view at the museum through April 2.

A reception for all students participating in the annual show will will be held 4-7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, with the artists and their families getting into the museum for free.

“Youth Art Month is designed to celebrate the value of art education and to encourage public support for quality school art programs,” according to a press release from the School Department.

“Art education provides students with important critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, in addition to fostering self-esteem, self-discipline and an appreciation for the work of others,” the release said.

Youth Art Month is “always a great show,” said Chad Hart, art coordinator for the schools. “It shows the array and scope of student work in our district, from elementary school to high school.”

He also said the student work is a reflection on the talent of the district’s art teachers. “Each (of our) teachers support and foster student creativity in a unique way. We are very lucky to have such a great group of art teachers here,” Hart said.

In addition to Connolly’s piece, the show also features art by Nora Barnes, grade 3, Peaks Island Elementary; Kayla Droge, grade 2, Lyseth Elementary; Dshamilja Hoerschelmann, grade 9, Portland High; Theo Horn, grade 5, Reiche Elementary; Gus King, grade 3, Ocean Avenue Elementary; Lucy Ricker, grade 5, Presumpscot Elementary; Collin Roe, grade 12, Portland Arts & Technology High; and Alma Wallace, grade 3, Longfellow Elementary.

While Youth Art Month puts a spotlight on Maine’s next generation of artists, it’s also a chance “for the entire community to discover the emerging voices of Maine’s youth and to recognize the immense value of arts education in our schools,” the School Department press release said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

This portrait of activitist Sylvia Rivera is by Grace Connolly, a junior at Deering High School. Connolly is one of nine students from Portland schools whose work is featured by the Portland Museum of Art during Youth Art Month.