Dear Friends of the Center for the Arts,
The virtual opening reception for the 40th annual Middletown Public Schools Art Exhibition will take place online on Saturday, March 13, 2021 from 5pm to 7pm. This event is sponsored by the Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools Cultural Council, and Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts.
Every spring for the past 40 years, the Middletown Public Schools K-12 Art Show has transformed Wesleyan’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery into a joyous, wall-to-wall riot of color. From ceramics to collage, the annual exhibition is a multimedia celebration of the creativity of Middletown students, the vision and dedication of their art teachers, and the community that supports both. It is a beloved event: last year, more than 2,000 people attended the exhibition opening on Saturday, March 7, 2020—just days before it closed early in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the Middletown Public Schools K-12 Art Show turns 40, goes virtual, and is a testament to an unprecedented year of teaching, learning, and art-making.
“The art teachers are unsung heroes,” says Julie Shvetz, K-12 Visual Department Head for Middletown Public Schools. “They are doing amazing things in their classrooms, making it work simultaneously for kids in the room, kids who are hybrid and will be in the room tomorrow, and kids who are fully remote.” Since last spring, teachers have been packing up supply kits full of pencils, markers, watercolors, air-drying clay, and sculpting tools to ensure that kids at home can fully participate and have a supported creative outlet.
“Students need a way to express themselves and how they’re feeling, with everything going on in the world right now,” says Shvetz. During January’s Presidential inauguration week, she challenged her high school students to create an expressive collage on a topic that concerned them, from COVID-19 and the election to Black Lives Matter and their own futures. They drew a range of emotions, and then incorporated those into a collage of images, text, and 3-D elements that summed up how they felt and what they had to say (some of these will be on view in the virtual show). Says Shvetz, “This show is a perfect means for bringing the community together, from Pre-K to kids who are about to graduate. We celebrate all our students, all our schools, and all our teachers—and this virtual year, we are so glad we still have that opportunity.”
The 40th anniversary Middletown Public Schools K-12 Art Show will be hosted on a Middletown Public Schools website and will open with Zoom reception on Saturday, March 13, 2021 from 5pm to 7pm. We hope you join us for this annual Wesleyan Center for the Arts and Middletown Public Schools tradition!
Campus and Community Engagement Manager
Center for the Arts
Artwork (clockwise from left): Maria Enrika Laredo, Gazelle Molina, Audrey Antczak.