On Sunday, March 6th, the Illinois High School Art Exhibition (IHSAE) closed out its 3rd annual art exhibition with an awards ceremony with an overwhelming turnout of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and arts advocates. Nearly 3500 people were in attendance from early in the morning for a college fair, to the mid-afternoon for the distribution of awards
The IHSAE is an organization made by teachers that is specifically dedicated to the celebration and promotion of the best artwork from high schools in the state of Illinois.
The IHSAE organization started off three years ago with a smashing success and has grown each consecutive year under the guidance of the Director Team. This team of teachers from the Chicagoland area has taken the idea brought to the table by John Zilewicz, Benjamin Jaffe, and Chris Sykora, and transformed it into the spectacular display of young artistic talent that thousands of people have seen and been apart of.
From 68 schools in participation during the first year, the 2016 General Exhibition contained over 500 juried works of art from students at 93 participating high schools across Illinois. Nearly $200,000 in Early College Scholarships were offered to students and $18,000 in monetary awards and art prizes were distributed.
When asked about how the show has been received, Jonathan Reiman, CPS art educator and IHSAE Director of Media Relations stated that “This exhibition is exactly what art departments and students across Illinois have been silently clamoring for, and for far too long. Our success is not a coincidence, it is the result of a desire being met. Collegiate art programs across the country are thirsty for talent but don’t have access to the high schools that have it. Our program facilitates that access by providing a central location for student artists to display their work, and for colleges to recruit this budding talent.”
In addition to academic exposure, the IHSAE’s partnership with the Zhou B art center on Chicago’s South Side also provides the opportunity for the student work to be seen by the public through the opening reception during Zhou B’s 3rd Friday art walks.
This year, the art walk was incredibly populated, with nearly 1200 guests walking through the exhibition over the 4 hours it was open.
“I was not aware of the high school exhibition and was blown away by the quality.” says John Supera, a visitor that evening. “Frankly I thought much of the work was better than the "professionals" on display.”
This sentiment was not isolated; each of the IHSAE directors heard the same type of remark from dozens of people over the night. “We have worked hard to make sure the efforts of our fellow art teachers and their many students are recognized and, in turn, respected,” says Nick Hostert, Art Educator and IHSAE Financial Director. “I, and the rest of the IHSAE team, am strengthened at the overwhelmingly positive reception of the work by people from all backgrounds. This is truly a move in the right direction for Arts Education in Illinois.
The 2016 General Show is followed up by the Senior Portfolio exhibition on April 24th. This will be held at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W 35th Street, Chicago, IL, 60609. The exhibition awards ceremony will be from 2-5pm.