Ogdensburg Free Academy presents “Alternatives,” a kindergarten through grade 12 art exhibition that opened Friday, March 11 with a reception at the Montpelier Gallery.
Dianne Draye-Alonso is an art teacher at Ogdensburg’s Free Academy (OFA), one of three teachers responsible for selecting works for the art exhibition. The three came together only a week before the opening. ‘We all get together as a group and we bring what we feel is the best. We bring as much as we can, and the three art teachers together choose the work where we think students did the best work, also perhaps where we think a student could use this, you know, because of their effort, they deserve a place to shine,’ she said.
Every year the exhibition has a different theme; this year is all about alternatives. ‘We have already chosen the theme for next year, too. Our theme for next year is humor. We choose the theme the year before so that we can then create our lesson plan that will focus on that theme,’ Draye-Alonso explained. ‘For Alternatives when you look around, you will see things that are based on alternative material, alternative concepts or alter ego. There are lots of different things happening.’
Art is important for many different reasons. The art works in the gallery show that many talented young artists attend OFA. Dianne Draye-Alonso believes art is a need. ‘We have students who understand that within hard work their creativity can really fly,’ she said. ‘Sometimes our kids come in with an idea and they fly with that, other times they realize they just have to work with the material. They need this vehicle, they need to experience beauty, they need to experience what they can build and they need to experience what they can create themselves and collaborative. It is a very visual world.’
Art also serves as the voice of young persons, but Draye-Alonso said there are some limitations in freedom of speech. ‘High school students have a little more leeway,’ she said. ‘You know I try to get them to be just as when they would write a very opinion-based piece perhaps for another class. I try to push them a little bit in their art at the upper levels. We do have to censor somewhat at times, you know, there are some things we can’t still do in a high school setting.’
A student who used the freedom of speech in art is Ellen Miller (15), who has two works exhibited at the gallery. ‘We had to do a protest print and I decided to protest mine on rape, because it is a very delicate subject in society but I feel like it is not addressed enough, so I feel that that would have been a good topic. It is a girl in her sport bra and in her underwear. It says ‘still not asking for it.’—exemplifying that no matter what you are wearing or whatever the circumstance, it is never the victim’s fault on sexual assault,’ Miller said.
Many people attended the opening, mostly proud parents and students. ‘It is very exciting,’ Miller said. ‘I’ve actually never had my art featured in an art gallery; this is my first time. So I think it is exciting to be able to convey a message to everyone who sees it. ‘
The exhibition will be open for visitors until May 13 in the Montpelier Gallery at the Ogdensburg Free Academy.