It takes a lot of courage for anyone to show the world exactly who they are, but that achievement is especially difficult for teens.
Some 30 teen artists from Hopkinton, Ashland, Hopedale and Milford have accepted the challenge and will be displaying creations that reflect their distinctive personalities in The Bold & Beautiful Student Exhibition at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts during September.
The student exhibit builds on the professional artist exhibition created by Randolph artist Jamaal Eversley that ran at the HCA from mid-July to Aug. 26. According to Eversley, The Bold & Beautiful Exhibition is about accepting the authenticity of oneself, embracing the uniqueness of each person, and realizing despite the differences people still can connect with each other.
“Even though we seem very different, we all share a lot in common,” said Eversley. He noted it takes a lot of courage to recognize and share one’s true self — “That is the bold part,” while celebrating the person’s individuality is the beauty.
After years of struggling to accept himself “as an artist, as a human being and a man,” Eversley initiated the exhibits in 2017 based on the theme “The things that make me boldly different make me beautiful.”
The HCA student exhibit began last spring when Eversley visited high schools in the four communities that are supporting the show with funds from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The funds were awarded through the local councils in Hopkinton, Ashland, Hopedale and Milford. Eversley told the students of his own journey to self-acceptance and asked them to create or submit an existing piece of art that reveals their true self for the exhibit. Thirty students, spread across the four towns, responded with artwork that encompasses a variety of media from painting and drawing on canvas to photography and even a sculpture. Like the professional artists in the exhibit, each student also had to write a short story explaining what the artwork means and how it represents them.
“We are giving them a chance to see what they can achieve,” said Eversley.
Besides having their artwork validated by being displayed among work by professional artists, the students will be competing for five awards. One student artist from each town whose creation best reflects the theme will receive a $250 award given by Eversley from the sale of his own artwork during the past year. A fifth student will receive a larger award from the HCA for the boldest piece of art. Judging will be done by HCA members and a former alumnus of the exhibition. Awards will be presented during an artist reception, to which the public is invited, on Friday, Sept. 9, from 6-7 p.m.
“This summer’s professional exhibit was great, there was a lot of interest,” said Eversley. “We hope people will visit the student exhibition and help reinforce in these teens that it is OK to be who they are.”
The Bold & Beautiful Student Exhibition runs from Sept. 9-30 in the Lotvin Family Gallery at the HCA, 98 Hayden Rowe Street. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. For more information about Eversley and his work, visit his social media sites, @SirJayEvs.