“Life on the Chesapeake” Art Show


Laura Vance

Living near a geographically captivating area like the Chesapeake Bay is a unique and exceptional privilege that many of us take for granted. Compact with historical significance and beautiful scenery, the Chesapeake Bay is the keystone of our state – apart from crab cakes and the Black-Eyed Susan, of course. Growing up in Maryland, I have become desensitized to its beauty and wonders – something I’m sure I have in common with many other Marylanders. So, how does one recognize the enchantment of their own state and community after residing in it for so long? One answer would be the Life on the Chesapeake art show in Calvert County, created by one of Huntingtown High School’s art teachers, Heather Smith.

Heather Smith founded this month-long celebration of artwork about 26 years ago. Since then, hundreds of students from multiple schools have submitted their artwork to be seen by the public, and it has grown into quite the event: “We’ve had between 330 and 850 clients come to the opening reception night,” she informed me. Considering it’s a local art show, those numbers are rather impressive. This year, they have 172 pieces of artwork submitted in the show, and 52 come from Huntingtown High School.

There are multiple reasons why a teacher would want to showcase their students’ work, and when asked what these reasons were, Smith replied, “I do this because I want to encourage kids to be confident and proud of the work that they do. I want to interact with the community and have them be involved and see how talented and smart our kids are.”

Sophomore Joseph Williams finds this art show helps him in a different way. When he showed me a remarkable self-portrait, he told me, “This one was definitely me finding love in myself.” He continued to explain how his art has helped him discover a creative outlet to express his interest regarding different aspects of nature.

“The art show’s goal is to emphasize our young and talented artists,” Junior Mei Cooley explained. “It shows the public and community what we can produce.” Additionally, Cooley finds art a creative way to channel her feelings as indicated when she described the story behind a lovely house she had painted: “This one was a painting I did of my best friend’s house from Delaware. When we moved away, it was really heartbreaking, but this helps me remember her.”

Sophomore Violette Campbell also eloquently explains her artwork’s purpose when she told me, “My artwork is a great way for me to put my own thoughts and emotions down on paper. I usually do black and white and monochromatic pieces because it’s a great way for me to express myself, and this is the best way that I feel I can do it.”

Evidently, expression through art is a very healthy and effective way for students to channel their creativity and emotions. The majority of students in Heather Smith’s Advanced Art class are serious about pursuing art in some form, and this art show plays a vital role in getting them to that next level. Putting their art on display and working towards that milestone helps them achieve experience while showing the community their immense talent.

Lastly, I had the privilege of interviewing the student who created the beautiful piece that was placed on the art show’s advertising flyer.  When asked how she feels about creating the piece, Catelyn Kreutzer explained, “It makes me feel very proud of my work. I worked nonstop for two weeks on this particular project. I really like the kingfisher, too. It’s a very proud bird that’s meant to symbolize beauty and peacefulness.” She feels like she’s accomplishing the art show’s purpose, which is to boost students’ talent and create an appreciation for local art and all it represents.

“We chose the Chesapeake theme because we want to be proud of where we live. We want to inspire others to focus on the Bay and to be proud of it,” Kreutzer said. This art show has become an aid for students and locals alike; it helps students gain experience while reminding Marylanders of the splendor of their state. I would highly recommend attending this show, as the remarkable works of art have the potential to remind us of the beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis.