When student artists at Buffalo Grove High School chose to highlight environmental issues in the school’s student-run art gallery this year, they wanted the artwork to go beyond pointing to the world’s climate problems. They wanted the art to start a dialogue.
And so, the artists are connecting with different student groups, such as the Environmental and Aquarium clubs, to collaborate further. They reached out to individuals in the school – from security guards to teachers and students – to incorporate their belongings in the first environmental show. They talked to their teachers and encouraged them to bring their classes to the One Grove Gallery to get involved in the conversation.
The student artists, who are part of the One Grove Gallery committee, said they hope this work will get their peers thinking about the environmental issues facing the world today and spur action.
“We’re just trying to bring awareness to some of the environment issues, such as pollution, carbon emission, and deforestation that can’t keep going on. There’s global extinction going on, 60% of all extinctions have happened since 1970. No one is talking about what is going on,” said junior Emily Miksta, who is president of the committee. “If we continue to do that, we’re going to ruin the earth. Stopping seems impossible, but there’s so much to do to help slow down the process.”
Created in 2015, the One Grove Gallery gives students real-world experience and an opportunity to continue building their skills beyond the classroom. Students learn how to run a gallery, from curating shows to hanging and supervising the space to marketing and event planning. Each show runs anywhere from three to six weeks.
“I’m so proud of the dedication and hard work the students on the gallery committee do. They are always willing to come in before school or use their lunch time to set up/take down a show or man the gallery space so people can visit it,” said Kristin Oversmith, a Buffalo Grove art teacher and gallery coordinator. “Their ideas for show proposals start dialogues and are thought provoking and inspirational.”
Tackling social issues is important to members of the One Grove Gallery committee. A few years ago, the committee hosted an exhibition titled Red My Lips, a show designed to raise awareness about the realities and prevalence of sexual violence.
This year, the students kicked off the environmental focus with a show called Zero Emissions Transport. The show highlights gas emissions problems and encourages individuals to walk, bike, or skate instead of driving.
As part of the exhibit, students on the committee collected alternative transportation methods such as bicycles, skateboards, and shoes from students and staff. They also traced the footprints of students to create paths in the show that connected objects to people. This connection shows BG staff and students efforts to lessen their carbon footprint.
An upcoming art show, Are You Listening?, is a collaboration between students in art and graphic arts classes that will reflect problems and solutions to world environmental problems. As part of the show, the students will also work with the students in the school’s Advanced Biology courses.
Students on the committee said they have received positive feedback from their peers, and educators in the building. Teachers from different disciplines are bringing their students to the gallery to analyze the images and enrich their curriculum.
“It’s more of trying to get people to realize they should give back,” said junior Caitlyn Conroy, the vice president of the committee. “The environment you’re around, it shapes you, and you should take a role in shaping it with preservation.”
For more information on upcoming shows and the One Grove Gallery, click here to visit the gallery’s website.