Students create a ‘Soulful Showcase’ at the Galaxy Gallery

Students create a ‘Soulful Showcase’ at the Galaxy Gallery

Student voice and student choice are at the heart of the impressive new exhibition “Soulful Showcase,” at the Galaxy Gallery through May 19.

The opening was abuzz as students, faculty, and guests mingled about the array of artistic mediums, displaying a rich tapestry of the Island’s young artists’ unique perspectives.

“Soulful Showcase” is an inspiring student-driven art exhibit celebrating the creativity and talent of BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) students and recent alumni from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. The initiative offers these young people a platform to reveal their artistic talents, and proceeds from sales launch a compelling fundraising effort to support cultural experiences and college tours that reflect students’ interests and backgrounds.

Holly Alaimo, director of Galaxy Gallery, conceived the idea and approached MVRHS about hosting a student show as her opening for the season. Sheryl Taylor, equity and access coordinator at the high school, spearheaded the effort with students doing Capstone independent study projects and others from the Black Students of Color Alliance and the Women’s Alliance Affinity groups.

The exhibit is a group effort, with members from the faculty and community supporting students in their curating, advertising, and fundraising endeavors. Various business, art, and English teachers, as well as Kharma Finley-Wallace at HoverFly Media and India Rose at Sideline, helped mentor the students.

The youth, co-led by Nyoka Walters and Caiden Gardner, held an open call for submissions to their peers at MVRHS, the Charter School, and to recent alumni.

Walters, who is interning with Anna Barber, the curator of exhibitions at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, became the logical choice to curate “Soulful Showcase.” 

“We started this in January, and all the hard work really paid off,” Walters said. “Collecting the art was the biggest challenge, because our second semester is a very busy time for us. We are studying for AP tests, SATs are around the corner every month, and there is a lot of other work. We also had to get the food together for the opening.” 

Walters, working closely with Alaimo, visited the gallery about two weeks prior to installing the show. “I took a bunch of pictures, and visualized with Holly and Sheryl what should go where,” she said.

Alaimo tutored the students on organizing an exhibit, hanging the art, pricing, and more. But ultimately, she explains, “I gave Nyoka the list of what we needed to do. It was their job to create impressions of what they wanted to show people, what they wanted to present.” 

Gardner co-led the project with Walters, working on the business and marketing side with Finley-Wallace to create the logo and poster, website design, branding opportunities, and event planning. 

At the opening, people moved excitedly through the show, surrounded by paintings, photographs, ceramics, jewelry, and poetry. 

Some impressive works are prints by Lulu White, including an original carved block depicting herself embracing a younger self sitting on her lap.

Carlos Abreu contributed the largest piece, enormous green leaves flowing across the entire length of a cardboard canvas. Their distinctive veins strike like lightning, animating the foliage.

Rayssa Lacerda painted a wonderful abstract underwater seascape that brings us in close, as though we were looking through a scuba mask.

Leelyn Thompson’s sensuous ceramic bowls cry out to be touched, and among Lillian Duarte’s offerings are intriguing African-inspired pieces.

Culinary art student and aspiring private chef Nola Savard helped with the food, and MVRHS music student Samuel Hines held the crowd captive with his singing.

Amid the hubbub, Alaimo said, “I hope viewers will recognize the students’ energy, interests, and compassion.”

“Students worked really hard on this artwork,” Walters said. “School is very challenging, and getting yourself from academic to creative mode takes a lot. I want everyone to know that students put in a lot of effort here, and that everyone who helped with this really cares, and I hope people come down to see it.”

“Soulful Showcase” at the M.V. Regional High School is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm, until May 19. To contribute to the fundraiser, contact [email protected] or visit the Galaxy Gallery website, (Note: Students are seeking donations of picture frames, hooks, and wires to hang additional artwork.)

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