Just how do teenagers view the world they live in?
Julie Glover believes many adults ponder such a question but few bother to ask it.
So she decided to find out for them.
With help from the nonprofit organization, Goosefoot, she put out a call to all of Whidbey’s high schools for a student art show and competition.
On display until June 11 at the Hub gallery in Bayview’s Cash Store, this year’s exhibit is called “Art with a Message: Teens’ responses to the world around them.” It’s the third year for the all-island student art exhibit.
More than 60 pieces of visual arts and poetry were submitted, twice as many submissions as previous years. All of Whidbey’s high schools participated — Oak Harbor, Coupeville, South Whidbey and South Whidbey Academy.
However, high schools are not listed on the artwork label as a way to avoid any preconceived notions or stereotypes, organizers said.
“We are especially pleased with the representation from Coupeville and Oak Harbor this year,” said Marian A. Myszkowski, director of program and fund development for Goosefoot.
Art teachers encouraged students to submit work and some used the show as part of a graded project.
“Anytime you can get the students and community together expressing and talking about art, I’m all for it,” said Sam Mirkovich, South Whidbey High School art teacher.
Themes in 2016 and 2017 were climate change and social justice, respectively, and they coincided with Whidbey Earth and Ocean Month, Myszkowski said. She describes Glover as “the brains and brawn” behind the yearly teen exhibits.
Glover, a Langley resident known for her activism on behalf of youth, said she opted for a more open-ended approach this time around. In her view, the exhibit opens up a dialogue between generations.
“Teenagers need to know adults give a damn about what they think,” Glover said. “So I thought the show could reveal what do teens want adults to know about what is bothering them? Or what excites them, makes them happy?”
Concerns jump out from paintings, collages, sketches, metal and ceramic works, photographs and poetry.
Will there be any fish left in the sea? Bees left buzzing?
Guns, will they ever stop killing us? Equality, will it ever be more than a dream?
More light-hearted commentary is found in images of bananas, family, friends and farm life.
“I’m surprised at how wide ranging the themes are,” Myszkowski commented as she strolled the two floors of art.
“Body image, environmental devastation, gun violence, family ties and women’s issues, those are topics most repeated.”
Thursday, Coupeville ninth-grader Chandell Schoonover stopped in the Cash Store with her best friend, Lily Zustiak.
“Look, there it is,” she screeched in delight upon seeing “Consent” in the corner of the first floor. “I can’t believe it!”
Zustiak quickly clicked away on her cell phone as Schoonover excitedly explained how her first public piece of art came to be.
“My Coupeville art teacher, Tacy Bigelow, told us there was an art exhibit that sought the student voice.
“She said to take something that really matters to us, whether it be policy or problems in the world.”
Using three black-and-white photographs displayed on a square of rusted metal, Schoonover’s message about unwanted sexual advantages is powerful, poignant and potent.
“Substances don’t give consent.
Alcohol doesn’t give consent. Whatever we’re wearing doesn’t give consent. Silence doesn’t give consent.
“That’s the message I wanted it to say about sexual assault,” explained Schoonover, who just turned 15.
“I used rusted metal because this is such a big issue that’s just sat there for a long time and it just sits there and rusts over.”