Dartmouth High's emerging young artists featured at exhibition

Feb 10, 2019

When Oona Clarke was handed the topic of “hands in action” for her next art class project, the Dartmouth High art student turned to her tight-knit family for inspiration.

Her piece, titled “Happy Hour,” displays the hands of her father and brother, holding drinks, to symbolize their family relationship.

It was the Dartmouth High senior’s submission into the high school Emerging Young Artists exhibition, which made it past a rigorous screening process to earn a spot at UMass Dartmouth’s campus gallery.

“I just felt up until now this is the strongest piece I’ve created, and I liked the composition here too,” Clarke said.

Her piece was one of 80 a jury of professors and officials from UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Visual and Performing Arts selected to appear at the show.

What started as 350 submitted works was whittled down to the pieces on display at the university’s campus gallery for several weeks, leading up to the Feb. 9 closing reception.

“This is the sixth year of the Emerging Young Artists exhibition,” said Professor Elena Peteva. “We started it as a way to recognize the merit of the artists of Massachusetts.”

It’s now expanded through New England, and included students from high schools from as local as Dartmouth High to as far away as Connecticut.

Dartmouth High junior Christina Zatir’s portrait, titled “Lady in Motion,” of her friend Emma surrounded by contrasting light and dark elements also earned a spot in the show.

“I wanted to symbolize darkness in her life, and finding confidence in herself,” she explained of the use of light and dark colors in her work.

Senior Malia Cafasso was inspired by her LGBTQ+ friends and the act of “coming out” for her piece.

“I have a lot of friends in the community, and it’s really relevant to society today,” Cafasso said.

Although a Dartmouth High student did not take home a top three finish, which would have netted them a scholarship, the experience alone was valuable. About eight students from Dartmouth submitted works to include in the exhibition.

Dartmouth High art teachers Christine McFee and Susan Brunette attended with their students, and were impressed with the art both their students, and students from across New England had to show.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students to be in a juried show,” McFee said. “It’s a higher caliber show.”