When last we told you about Applewood Academy (AAPL) student Michelle Hall*, she had just finished painting Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night on the front of her family’s house. The gifted artist was recently recognized with a Juror’s Choice award for her artwork “Legacy of Love” in Belleville’s 4th annual Student Art Show.
This year’s theme for the show, which is hosted by the Belleville Downtown Improvement Area (BDIA) was “Love is…” Each year, students are given a theme without explanation and asked to interpret the theme as they see fit. The participating high school students, along with their families and friends, gathered together for the show’s opening reception on May 7th.
For many years Michelle, who has autism, was a self-taught artist. After completing a grade nine art credit at AAPL, Michelle expanded her artistic pursuits, exploring more and different media. Michelle received a $100 prize for Legacy of Love, which explores the pain of teen suicide and the beauty of love. When a friend of a friend took his own life in 2009, Michelle witnessed the suffering her friend endured, but also the beauty that came from pain.
“Truer love has never been displayed than through these teenagers,” she says in her artist’s statement. “They surrounded the mother who just lost her child. They made an unspoken pledge that she would never want for anything, she would never be without company, and she would not suffer. She lost her son and several young men who knew very little of her pain knew enough to come forward. The death however tragic, has left a legacy and hope for teaching any generation what love is.”
Michelle says that she was excited and happy that her artwork garnered an award. “The father of the boy I drew a memoriam for did buy the picture. He bought it because he loved how I represented his son in my art.”
Michelle concluded her artist’s statement with a beautiful vision of love: “Love doesn’t come from a computer screen, in a box, drizzled over chocolate, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or even a dying friend. Love comes from you. The legacy of a tragedy will soon be forgotten when you lead a legacy of love.”
“We’re always intrigued to see how she responds to the yearly art theme,” says Michelle’s mother, Susan*. “This year the pieces were based on two different events in her life and she really was able to capture Ben’s piece in a way that delighted his family.”
Michelle also submitted a piece about the Belleville Bulls, “The Love of the Game,” signed by the entire Bulls team. “The Bulls may become the Hamilton Bull Dogs but their spirit will never leave Belleville,” she writes in her artist’s statement. “We will always be a community of Bulls. The love of the game is not the puck dropping to the ice or even the jersey we wear, the love of the game is every Canadian shivering in the arena because their team is playing. A community that supports each other is a community that loves.”
This year’s student art show features 65 artworks, ranging from photography to sculpture. Student artists represent 10 high schools in the Quinte region. Beginning on May 12th, the artwork was displayed in the windows of various downtown businesses for the remainder of the month. Maps of the downtown art walk can be picked up at the BDIA office at 267 Front Street or on the BIDA website.
*names changed to protect privacy
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