Selfies are all the rage and it takes little talent to point and shoot with a cellphone camera to capture an image. Molly O'Shea's "selfie," currently on display at the Westport Library, is more old school than new technology and took considerably more talent to create.
She used graphite to draw a self-portrait and colored pencil for the green Granny Smith apple atop her head in a work of art she calls "Anticipation." O'Shea's drawing is one of 16 works of art created by 15 local students in an exhibit titled "Considering Reality: Emerging Artists from Staples High School" in the library's Riverwalk display case.
"I wanted to do something different and outside the box. Most of what I did before were simple self-portraits," said O'Shea, 17, last Friday during an opening reception on the library's lower level.
Simultaneously, the library hosted a reception upstairs in the Great Hall for the opening of "Face to Face: Portraits from WSPAC as It Turns 50," where the eyes from portraits created by notables in the modern art world peered into the crowd of a couple of hundred people. They were there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection.
The juxtaposition of the two art shows was not an accident. Rather, the coordinated effort places a spotlight on the town's long artistic heritage and legacy as well as the talent of its up and coming artists.
"I think it shows how well the town programs have nurtured these artists and allowed them to create such professional looking work," said Katherine Ross, a Westport private art teacher who served as one of four curators for the student exhibit.
Ann Chernow, who helped her late husband Burt Chernow establish the WSPAC in 1964, said the students represented in the emerging artists exhibit may one day become noteworthy artists and their work could be included in town's art collection.
"These artists were, at one time, emerging," Chernow said as she looked around the Great Hall to the photographs, lithographs, oils and other media of the professional artists including Henri Matisse and Paul Camacho.
Sophomore Angela Yu, 16, standing next to her graphite on paper rendering of "Old Shoes," said she is excited for the opportunity to exhibit her work beyond the borders of school. "I had an interest in art from a very young age. It's fascinating how I can use one pen, one pencil, and one piece of paper to express myself in so many different ways," she said.
Staples senior Ben Goldschlager, 17, one of the curators for the student show, said the exhibit includes charcoal, oil, collage, photography, ceramics and other media; two-dimensional and 3D works, "color and lack of color. We wanted a variety."
Goldschlager and co-curator Michael Abrams, 18, a senior, arranged the art work very deliberately. "Some thematic choices informed our arrangement decisions," Goldschlager said.
"We looked at each submission and we have to take into consideration size," Abrams said, because of the limited space in the display case. Goldschlager said they also considered execution, creativity and interpretation of the theme, "Considering Reality."
The unspoken, overall theme of both exhibits is on Westport's legacy of art and creative expression.
"That's one of the reasons we moved to Westport, to celebrate creativity and artistry," said Stephen O'Shea, Molly's father.
The Emerging Artists exhibit continues through July 31, and the Face to Face exhibit runs through June 25.
For more information, go to www.westportlibrary.org