Illinois School and Salon Artists Gallery, both of Park Forest, have partnered to offer students the chance to experience what it is like to be a professional artist.
The annual “Shades of Inspiration” exhibit featuring the work of kindergartners to eighth-graders returns to the home of a cooperative of artists from the Southland and beyond.
“We are the only children’s art show that is exhibited at Salon Artists Gallery,” said Deanna Rallins, art instructor for Matteson School District 162, which includes Illinois School.
“After producing work, the kids can then go through the very different process of actually displaying their work. They’re never charged a commission. It’s always been if somebody wants to buy one of their pieces, they get the full price for it,” she said.
“As artists, it’s their decision, or their parents’ decision, whether to sell it or not. It might not be for sale. It might be only for exhibition.”
Students also can experience what an opening reception is like when Salon Artists Gallery hosts a free celebration from 7-9 p.m. March 8 to launch the show, which continues to be displayed until March 30.
“That’s the party. That’s when everyone will be there. You can meet the artists,” said Rallins, curator of “Shades of Inspiration.”
“It’s really lovely to be able to see some of the artwork. It gives it a great sense of what the piece is about when you see the little one or the middle schooler who made it. That connection is really nice.
“What it also does on the flip side for the artist is you’ll be able to see people’s reaction to your work. That gives you confidence. That’s what our young people need to be able to do with a piece of work. Then they’ll have confidence to continue making work.”
The jazz group Bout Time returns to perform live music for the reception.
“We have a lot of kids at Illinois School that are in band. They will sit and talk to the saxophonist. The kids would come over and talk to the jazz band. It was a wonderful learning experience because they got a taste of what a real gallery show is like,” said Rallins, of Matteson.
“You’re going to have some kind of music there. You’re going to have the exhibit. You’re going to have hors d’oeuvres. We give them little snacks. They go through the entire process of what it is to create work and then to display it and, if there is a sale, what that process is like.
“Pat Moore and the gallery’s artists are supporting emerging artists. That’s the best thing. I’m a professional artist also so we know what that journey is being the adult artists and the professional artists that we are.”
“Shades of Inspiration” could feature up to 250 pieces of art including drawing, multimedia, printmaking and sculpture.
“Nothing is done at home. It is all done either in class or I have several after-school activities,” said Rallins, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she also has taught.
“The students are awesome human beings. They are learning to express themselves artistically so they can take tragedy that happens in their lives or pure happiness and they can learn how to translate that and share it with others. That is what’s really important.”