Within the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC’s) Inspired Minds Exhibit, up and coming artists have the opportunity showcase their pieces to a broad audience. For many of them, it is their first time in a gallery display.
Linda Beard, SOPAC’s Director of Community of Engagement, explained that the art is dynamic in different ways. “A lot of the times we’re surprised at what the students are representing in their artwork,” Beard said. “They definitely show that the kids are opinionated about certain topics.”
Inspired Minds is a collection of artwork from high school students across Essex County, including schools like Columbia High School, Livingston High School, Lacordaire Academy, and Nutley High School. Students must first submit their art to be juried. If chosen, they will be among approximately 60 pieces to be displayed in SOPAC’s Herb and Milly Iris Gallery. They will also have the opportunity to sell their art in a professional setting.
For SHU students, Inspired Minds is an opportunity to see young artists’ work in a free, open space outside of campus.
“It’s not a museum atmosphere and for young students and SHU students, it is artists that are so close in age that they might find it relevant and be able to connect with their thoughts and themes,” Beard said.
Ethan James, a sophomore management and finance major, expressed similar sentiments.
“Having been recently in the same shoes as these high schoolers, going through the motions of school and becoming aware of the world around me, the art would have a deeper meaning than some who have long graduated,” James said.
Laura Colantonio, a senior marketing major, explained that the exhibit aligns with her involvement in a photography club at SHU. “Needless to say, art of all kinds interests me,” Colantonio said. “It is beautiful and fascinating.”
James added that the convenience of getting to SOPAC from SHU’s campus is a motivating factor for his attendance.
“I have been to the San Francisco MOMA, the Asian Art Museum, the Smithsonian Art Museum,” James explained. “What would attract me to go, in addition to being relatable, is the location involving a quick walk or ride on SHUFly to the exhibition.”
Alyssa Schirm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.