Local students’ artwork on display in D.C.

Weisman Art Museum directors at the University of Minnesota recently selected works of art created by four Anoka Middle School for the Arts students to be included in an exhibit in Washington D.C. this summer.

“The Association of Art Museum Directors present ‘Museums: pARTners in Learning,’ an exhibition of student art work highlighting the results of museum programs in partnership with local schools,” said Anoka Middle School ELA (English Language Arts) and creative writing instructor Kristin Gifford, explaining the selection process.

On exhibit in the U.S. Department of Education building lobby July 1-29 (with opening celebration at 11 a.m. July 23), the original pieces of art are the works of local students Katherine Andrews, Peyton Arndt, Britta Larson, and Shea O’Brien. In addition to creating their artwork, students wrote artist’s statements, telling what inspired them and describing messages they hope to communicate to viewers of their artwork. Those statements will also be on display.

This year, 16 university-based museums from across the country selected artwork to exhibit in a diverse range of creative and innovative programs, including in-school, after-school, community- and museum-based initiatives.

“The exhibit showcases the power of the arts in multi-generational, cross-curricular and interdisciplinary programs implemented across the nation,” Gifford said.

“Spirit Unbroken,” by Katherine Andrews
“Spirit Unbroken,” by Katherine AndrewsPhoto submitted

“Spirit Unbroken”

by Katherine Andrews

In my painting, I used many different things to show the brokenness being felt by many of the young women in the Middle East and in America.

One main style that I used was the use of two different mediums to contrast the differences in the tormentor and the tormented. Also, I used shape to show the same idea; the long flowing hair and the sharp triangles.

The last technique that I used to show my ideas was the use of space. I used the open space in the top of my painting to represent the hope that can be found in the strong young people of these countries.

In my research statement, I found the pattern of disrespect towards women very common in both the U.S. and the Middle East. This was something I really wanted to incorporate into my artwork, but I wanted it to almost feel like an encasement of disrespect. One thing that I noticed was that in many places the acts against women go unpunished and many women are left feeling trapped in the struggles they face.

The women in both the Middle East and the United States face domestic violence, but the intensity and frequency of acts in the Middle East are shocking. Just some of the horrible things include acid attacks, rape, and death.

Although many horrible things may be going on around some women and girls alike, there are glimmers of hope in others around them that help to raise awareness and promote the cause of stopping this violence.

Mirroring Malala’s impact in Pakistan and around the world, the woman in my art shows a hopeful amount of peace even when surrounded by horrible circumstances.


“The Last Night Stroll”

by Peyton Arndt

The inspiration for my art, “The Last Night Stroll,” was created when I researched the topic of panthers being endangered.

“The Last Night Stroll,” by Peyton Arndt
“The Last Night Stroll,” by Peyton ArndtPhoto submitted

My piece shows the outline of a panther walking around city streets on a dark, ominous night made from acrylic paints. In the corner, in the direction in which the creature is headed, there is a stop sign symbolizing the possible end of the line for the panther species.

It shows how in the world today, if things keep going as they have been, the panther could just wander into extinction. There is a small moon in its third quarter phase in the background that emphasizes the near end of a cycle. The scenery is of a city to show the cause of the panthers going endangered is humans expanding their land and demolishing the panthers.

And to add a touch of emotion, the panther is almost ghost-like, a pale creature, bound to disappear. A contrasting light surrounded in dark.

The reason as to why my art piece and Antoine Louis-Barye’s “Panther Devouring A Rabbit” connects is the significance of our main subject, the panther.

Although both pieces reflect different meanings and emotions using different techniques, they both focus on the magnificent panther. Antoine chose to show the panthers in a sense of the present and what the species does to survive everyday, while I chose to show what is to come. That if what they do is not enough, they may just disappear.

My piece connects to the research I conducted because I researched the endangerment of panthers and in my painting, it points out causes to the panthers shrinking in numbers and how if there is no change, the outcome and major consequence.

To never see one of natures beauties would be such a tragedy, but my work shows how it is a possibility nonetheless. The agile, cunning, mysterious creature, with its smooth fur and bulging muscles, could be nevermore before we know it.


by Britta Larson

The incentive for my piece, the Arabic word for “bouquet,” came from the research I conducted on Muslims.

“Bouquet,” by Britta Larson
“Bouquet,” by Britta LarsonPhoto submitted

The title for my art means “bouquet” in Arabic, and my piece shows a wedding bouquet. Each petal of the orchids symbolizes the man and the woman in a mixed marriage. All of the petals are colored with two colors. The black and white, shaded together, represent what would happen in a mixed marriage. Also, the middle of the orchid and the roses are a warm pink to show the love and happiness that happens at a wedding. Additionally, all of my lines are curvy, to show the carefree way that the two people being wed are feeling. Even though the rest of my artwork portrays happiness, the texture of the piece, which is bumpy, resembles the stress that the couple is going through.

The connection to Kehinde Wiley’s “Santos Dumont; the Father of Aviation,” is that we are both showing that people can overcome challenges similar to marginalism. Wiley’s piece takes dark skinned people and puts them into the context of European art. His artwork challenges racial marginalization in art history, and forces the viewers to see minority people in important roles.

The bouquet I drew symbolizes two people overcoming how different races are kept separated. By getting married, they are forgetting what other people think is the “right” way to act, and doing what they think they should do. I show the love and happiness that the two share, even if other people don’t approve of what they’re committing to.

In my research, I found multiple ways that individuals don’t approve of Muslims, and how they showed their disapproval. The main reason that Muslims were singled out is because of a Islamic violent extremist group that hit the Twin Towers on 9/11. Similarly, they were disfavored because of their religion. Muslims practice the religion named Islam. Islam involves certain reasons that Muslims should pray, and certain garments that the women should wear.

Consequently, people have shown their hate to Muslims in many ways. A few of those ways involve vandalizing the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, and their place of worship, a mosque. But vandalizing is not the only way people have shown their strong dislike.

A Muslim American was assaulted was in December of 2004. The woman, wearing a hijab, was taking a walk with her child in a stroller when a man almost ran her over. The woman told him that “‘You almost killed my baby!’” the man retorted saying that “‘It wouldn’t have been a big loss.’” (Archived: Post 9/11 Hate Crime Trends: Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews in the U.S., 2005).

Aside from disapproving of Muslims, people did not, and a few still don’t, like mixed marriages. The bouquet of flowers in my artwork, is what the bride will carry up the aisle.

This woman is going to be married to a person of an opposite race. My art piece connects to my research, because I found out that mixed marriages are approved of more today, than a century ago. Nowadays, people are brave enough to go against what has been thought of as “right.”

These people make a stand. Whether it’s protesting, speaking up, or marrying someone of a different race, they are making the world bloom in many new ways.

“The Beast in Front of the Bars”

by Shea O’Brien

“The wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. He is in front of it.”-Axel Munthe (1857-1949).

“The Beast in Front of the Bars,” by Shea O’Brien
“The Beast in Front of the Bars,” by Shea O’BrienPhoto submitted

This quote inspired me to title my artwork, but the inspiration for my piece as a whole came from a sculpture titled “Tusk.” An elephant’s ivory tusk with many lines carved along its surface made this piece very intriguing. A variety of instruments, animals, dancers, soldiers, and leaders create a celebratory mood.

“Tusk” was sculped in Nigeria, Africa somewhere between 1775 and 1777.

To become more familiar with African celebrations and culture, I started researching. One celebration stood out above all others, animal sacrifice. I found that in Africa animals are highly repsected and honored. Learning this informaiton made me think of the thousands of animals killed every day.

While looking through the eyes of an animal, my artwork explores the topic of animal respect and slaughter. The eyes of this animal stare into thousands of metal bars. The cages are represented in my art as squares. All the squares form a pattern which stands for the confusion behind the animal’s eyes.

An animal born into a factory farm will never experience freedom. Instead it experiences cages and beasts, standing just on the opposite side of those metal bars. The piercing eyes that peer from darkness in my artwork represent the horror an animal must feel when looking into those eyes.

The cages in my artwork are red because the brighter color is the first thing your eye is drawn to. There are two colors of red, one orange-red and one brighter red. The orange-red represents what we think we know about the slaughterhouses, we are all aware of the food industry and their works.

Do you really know your slaughterhouse facts? It is clean and organized killing, right? Wrong!

The brighter red color symbolizes reality. Slaughterhouses are disorganized and there are more animals slaughtered than we can even wrap our head around.

Each box is outlined in thick black marker symbolozing that the issue of animal slaughter has become so thick that we may never be able to correct this issue. My artwork is relatively small to create the feeling of being crammed.

Inspired by a sculpture titled “Tusk” my artwork looks through the eyes of an animal living through the horror that is slaughtering. Slaughterhouses are disorganized and crowded. When animals are born into a factory farm their life is lived in a cage, they never experience freedom.

My artwork attempts to capture what the animal feels. The maze of cages become the many red squares displayed in the art.

Everything down to the colors were thought out to create the mood of terror. But perhaps the real terror is in the reality of the situation. Animal slaughter has become a deep problem that we may never be able to solve. The world needs to become aware of the problem that the food industry is so desperately trying to hide.