Exhibiting the Valley’s Emerging Artists

New Artist 2016 show at the Hockaday features curated art pieces from each area high school

By Molly Priddy
Kathy Martin hangs a piece created by Columbia Falls' Harley Moichan for the upcoming show "New Artists 2016 - High School Students Art Exhibition" at the Hockaday Museum of Art on March 29, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Many people are born with the innate desire to create art, to build or paint or solder a project that says and means something, letting the materials give a visual and physical representation of an idea.

Being able to bring that creation into existence is another challenge, one often dictated by how motivated the artist is, along with the kind of training that shaped them.

In the Flathead Valley, a deep artistic community is on board with teachers and parents to help nurture the next generation of great painters, sculptors, and artisans. This support is especially represented in the ever-popular annual show at the Hockaday Museum of Arts, “New Artists,” an exhibition of art from local high school students.

New Artists 2016 has been on exhibit since March 31 at the Kalispell museum, but the opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, April 7 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

“The range of work is anywhere from paintings to drawings to sculptures. This year we even have a computer monitor set up,” Kathy Martin, director of education at the Hockaday, said. “It’s awesome. There’s some really nice professional-quality stuff, and then some just plain really talented students.”

The show is curated, but not by the Hockaday staff. Art teachers at participating high schools from Whitefish to Bigfork, including private institutions and Montana Academy, each selected four pieces for the show.

So schools like Flathead High School, with five art teachers, will bring in 20 pieces, Martin said. Then it’s Martin’s job to hang the exhibit.

“We want to showcase the up-and-coming artists,” she said. “Some of these folks, by the time they get out of high school, they may just be doodlers. Some of them have the idea that they want to be some kind of professional artist.”

Selected works for the 2016 show include paintings, printmaking, collages, drawings, and more. Some of the pieces might have sprung purely from imagination, she said, and some might have been created as part of a specific assignment.

“You have to take what the student does and realize that sometimes the art concept is very directed by the teachers,” Martin said.

Each piece will have an artist’s statement, so the student can explain their process and creation.

The range of talent and interests is fascinating, Martin said, because some students approach art class with a mere need for an arts credit, while others are working toward building a portfolio to send to art college programs.

There are two awards given on the night of the reception; the first is the Curator’s Choice Award, which is decided by the Hockaday staff. The other, the People’s Choice Award, is decided by votes on the night of the reception.

“We want to encourage people to come in opening night and choose their favorite piece,” Martin said.

The New Artists 2016 exhibit will be up until May 7, and Martin encouraged people to stop by and check out the work. Not only is it good art, she said, but it’s also the art of teenagers, who are in near-constant emotional and sometimes physical flux.

That makes each year new and different, she said, because each student comes from a unique background and life experiences.

“All in all, there are just some really neat things,” Martin said. “High school art is interesting because of their thought process and what’s important to them as teenagers. Sometimes it’s the world viewed through their eyes or it’s a just nice landscape.”

For more information, visit www.hockadaymuseum.org.

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