NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — A year after the North Olmsted Mayor’s Art Show added an open house event to allow students to enjoy the exhibit at the recently renovated Old Town Hall, organizers are now pivoting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual showcase of drawings, paintings, photography (digital and darkroom) and sculptures will become a virtual show, which is expected to be posted online in late February or early March.
“We really felt like we were starting to build momentum as an annual event the kids really looked forward to (for) showcasing their work,” North Olmsted High School Fine & Performing Arts Department Chairperson Melanie Reilly said. “More so, this year it’s even more important to the students.
“It’s stress relief. It’s a way to find optimism, because everybody has COVID burnout, stress and screen fatigue. We’re finding a lot of our kids are really using art therapeutically,” she said.
The pandemic has canceled numerous North Olmsted High School art events, such as its senior showcase and shows, which makes the virtual affair that much more important.
“We’re just super excited to have this avenue because we need ways to celebrate the kids,” Reilly said.
“They had so many things taken away that are normal — physical art shows, physical concerts, prom, homecoming. We’re trying to do everything we can to find ways to still give them those experiences and that joy in a way that’s safe.”
In fact, Reilly said moving the art show to a virtual affair has been on her radar since the start of the school year. The concern was a lack of exposure affecting scholarship money, as well as self-esteem among the teenage artists.
“It was really big on our minds,” Reilly said. “Each year, teachers have to write professional growth goals. Our department’s developmental goal this year was to find ways to showcase our students and celebrate their work in this new virtual environment. We’re pretty excited.”
Not only will the 2021 North Olmsted Mayor’s Virtual Art Show include more works than in previous years, the online presentation will feature a senior showcase with recorded music from the high school choir.
“The art show is so important,” Mayor Kevin Kennedy said. “I’m so proud of the North Olmsted kids who participate. I just find art is an extremely important thing to have in one’s life. I’m excited to see this year’s show and excited to see the talent.”
Looking ahead, Reilly said future art shows will more than likely continue to have an online component.
“I think that would be a fabulous idea,” Reilly said. “We definitely want to continue that because it reaches a wider audience.”
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