For the fifth consecutive year, the Business of Art Center, in conjunction with The Imagination Celebration, is presenting Wunderkind, a juried exhibition of selected teen artists from local high schools. Local artist Marina Eckler (full disclosoure: wife of Indy music editor Noel Black) chose 11 developing artists to participate in the show. The numbers were deliberately reduced from previous years in order to allow participants to display multiple works, and even incorporate an artist's statement into their section of the show.
As you'd expect, it's both uneven and delightful. Delightful because of the sheer talent of the participants, because of their passion, because of their ambition; uneven because they're still teen-agers, unformed, unsure, and at the beginning of their artistic lives.
Wasson's Kelly Hardin is open, passionate and technically skilled. Her photographs and photo collages are as good, and often better, as those of professionals twice her age. "Her Name Was Mia" is a raw, deeply felt memorial to a friend, Mia Gardener, who died in a car accident last year. It's neither subtle nor sentimental -- it's just a powerful statement of loss and grieving.
Hardin's other works are just as strong. "Jaded Beauty," a black-and-white photograph of a young woman heightened with a smidgen of hand coloring (or maybe digital manipulation), is a sensitive portrait of adolescence. And for bravura composition, it's hard to find any fault with "Once Upon a Summer's Day," three identical photographs of a sunflower, digitally manipulated to produce yellow, orange and crimson petals.
Maurene Buenviaje, a junior at Doherty, has a couple of fine pieces in the show. It's impossible not to like her sunny, pensive sketch of two lovebirds, but her portrait of the murdered Tupac Shakur, "Shadow of Tupac," is skillful and arresting.
Samantha Heuer, a student at CIVA charter high school, has among her work two graphite drawings of her Aunt Kathy, pregnant, nude and lovely. Reading her artist's statement, she could have been speaking for all of her fellow artist/exhibitors when she wrote of her own talent: "I will not waste it or take it for granted."
Victoria Montgomery, a senior at Cheyenne, is the only artist/artisan represented. Montgomery creates silver jewelry, some of which is strikingly good and deeply original. Take a look at the roughly cast, deliberately crude ring titled "The Circle of Life Confined within the Box of Cultural Expectation." It's just a circle within a square, but Montgomery knows how to make simple forms dance.
Katie Montoya's black-and-white photographs are pretty extraordinary -- masterfully composed, skillfully printed and far better than the work of any high school student has a right to be. Indeed, there are at least a dozen pieces in the show that would stand out in any local exhibition, and a dozen more that'd be perfectly acceptable.
Go see what these kids can do and imagine being a high school art teacher, and having all 11 of 'em in a single class ... and realize that for every Kelly Hardin or Maurene Bienviaje there are scores, even hundreds of kids with powerful, unexpressed talent that, thanks in part to the CSAP-driven public school curriculum, will never emerge.
But let's be grateful for those who do -- and let's thank the BAC, the Imagination Celebration's Mary Mashburn, and juror/curator Eckler for bringing them to our attention.
-- John Hazlehurst
capsule Wunderkind: A juried exhibit of high school artists
The Business of Art Center, 513 Manitou Ave.
Through April 24
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday