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Expanding on a theme

Teens took the Superheroes theme and produced a wide range of work for the Word and Image show.

By DONNA WINCHESTER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 3, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Gelaina Poth didn't realize she had taken an award-winning photograph when she captured her younger brothers splashing in a lake last fall during her family's Tennessee vacation.

Four months later, the 17-year-old Pinellas Park High student's photograph won a gold key award in the regional Scholastic Art and Writing show. Last week, the photograph won an award of excellence at the Word and Image high school show at the Arts Center.

Gelaina is one of 41 students whose visual and written work is featured in the exhibit. A partnership between the Arts Center and Pinellas County Schools, the show includes both framed and three-dimensional works.

The theme for this year's show, as it was for the elementary school show in December and the middle school show in February, was "superheroes." The students' assignment was to portray a person they admire accompanied by a written explanation.

The quality of the work was impressive, curator of exhibitions Amanda Cooper said. Equally impressive was the thought the students put into expressing the theme.

Gelaina, for example, spoke from her younger brother Gary's perspective when she wrote that her superhero was her older brother. Drew Roth, a ninth-grader at Pinellas County Center for the Arts, painted his muse in somber tones and called her "the source of my verse, my paintings, my drawings."

John Thompson, also a ninth-grader at PCCA, entered a photograph of himself with a washed-out mirror image. He attached this narrative: "I am my own superhero because besides my mother, I was my determination for getting into PCCA. I looked in the mirror one day and saw what I would become if I didn't turn my life around."

A welcome addition to this year's show was Dixie Hollins High, Cooper said. Tina Koufas-Eisbacher, a teacher in the school's graphic design academy, encouraged her students to participate and helped them develop their entries during class time. The Arts Center show was a good experience for them, Koufas-Eisbacher said, because integrating words with images is a basic skill for graphic artists.

Two students in addition to Gelaina received awards of excellence at this year's show. PCCA 11th-grader Darren Beistle entered a three-dimensional work in clay of a yellow duck caught in a vise. He said his superheroes are "people who deal with stress on a daily basis and ultimately overcome it."

Thi Nguyen, another PCCA 11th-grader, mounted a Prismacolor cut-paper collage on a watercolor wash. His narrative explained that his superhero is his father because he left Vietnam as a young boy to give his family a better life.

The students' work will be on display at the Arts Center, 719 Central Ave., until May 3. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

The artists

The artwork of these Pinellas County students will be on display at the Arts Center through May 3:

Dixie Hollins High: Andrej Milic

Pinellas County Center for the Arts: Darren G. Beistle, Sarah Johnson, Michelle A. John, Erik Hagen, Thi Nguyen, Jasmina Meyer, Jamie Waters, Kelly Reaves, Alex Holmes, Anthony Langhorne, Drew Roth, Jill Beals, Jessika Glendra, Daniel Adams, Renee Little, Jessica Dassing, John Thompson, Justin Runfola, Chelsea Moore, Sameth Sim, Anthony Hugan, Andres F. Monzon-Aguirre, Courtney Rowles, Marcus Freeman.

Northeast High: Adelle Long, Mark Stevens, Colleen Keith, Christian Lent, Monica Langenhan, Adrian Williams.

Largo High: Stephanie Norcross.

Pinellas Park High: Gelaina Poth, Sonny Black.

Seminole High: Erin Applebaum, Brett Morgan, Arielle Plaisance, Miranda Borchardt, Tara Conway.

St. Petersburg High: Katherine Ackerman, Ashley Schick.

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