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Art students display labor of love

Teenagers have a lot to say about broken hearts, and a high school art show reveals some of their interesting and even odd takes on the subject.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 15, 2002

Seventeen-year-old Hannah Pagan got dumped on New Year's Day. Her boyfriend of two months said it just wasn't working.

[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Lilia Markham, 16, works on an acrylic painting that will be part of the Blake High School student art show, "Lapses in Judgment." The sophomore is working on a piece that will fit into the love theme for the Velentine show.
Like most teens, Hannah tumbled into despair. She felt sad, mad and rejected. Her young heart ached.

Rather than wallow in misery, Hannah channeled her feelings creatively.

She grabbed a teddy bear, cut open its chest and attached a burnt love letter to its cottony heart. A little paint here, a little paint there. And voila. Art.

Hannah's creation, To My Ex, will be on display at Blake High School as part of the school's first student-run art show, which opens tonight. The show features the artwork of students in grades 9 through 12.

Seniors conceived the idea and came up with the theme: love. All of the pieces reflect students' view of love -- good, bad or indifferent.

They titled the show, "Lapses in Judgment."

Organizers want it to show off the students' creativity and to entertain. A sculpture of a human heart with an arrow through the center will likely turn a few heads. Others beg for some imagination, such as one of a telephone with a birth control pill packet on the dial.

"We hope they can relate to it," said senior Kris Mongene. "Love is a universal theme. I don't know anyone who hasn't felt it."

Teresa Winston, one of four art teachers involved in the show, said the idea was to create an event, not just a show where people walk in silence from piece to piece. At the opening, mimes will move about the gallery and improvisational actors will give their two cents about the works. Harpists will add music.

"This will be the first time they will be a public venue," Winston said. "They will hear the critique of the audience."

Students are decorating the gallery to match the theme. Messages on glass hearts will hang from the ceiling and heart-shaped mushrooms will greet arriving guests. For a quarter, visitors can measure their sex appeal on a carnival love machine.

The teachers have their own perspectives to share, as well. Winston decorated a corner with a vanity table and lingerie on the wall to show all of the things women do to look pretty. Lucy Kirk created a metal and rice paper sculpture of a woman juggling work, home and a man.

[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Eye Candy by Blake freshman Sarah Elek is a work composed of candy hearts for a Valentine-themed art show.
Organizers say the show will give a glimpse of what goes on at Blake, Hillsborough County's only magnet high school for the arts.

The school offers about 25 art classes, ranging from ceramics and glass to painting and sculpture. About 130 students are enrolled.

In the past, Blake has held art shows for graduating seniors. "Lapses in Judgment" is the first to include the work of younger students.

Seniors will judge the works and award prizes. In keeping with the kitschy theme, they decorated old cheerleading and bowling trophies with feathers, buttons and glitter.

Proceeds from the love machine, a raffle and cash donations will go toward art supplies.

- Susan Thurston can be reached at (813) 226-3394 or

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