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SAMA welcomes student art exhibition

| Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Kim Stepinsky | Trib Total Media
AJ DeMao, 6, of Ligonier, a first-grade student at Valley School of Ligonier, shows his work 'Men Out in the Sea' to his mother, Lisa DeMao, during the Artists of the 21st Century student art exhibition. at the Southern Alleghenies Museum on March 2, 2014.
Kim Stepinsky | Trib Total Media
Valley School of Ligonier art teacher, Kelly Vellely, (left), commends her fifth- grade student, Saskia Mentor, 10, of Johnstown, for her exhibited artwork of watercolor and colored pencil, ' Horse of an Indian', (shown back), during the Artists of the 21st Century Student Art Exhibition, held at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier on Sunday. March 2, 2014.

The legions of talent wreathed throughout the youth of Westmoreland County were vividly displayed at the official opening of the Student Art Exhibition held at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art Sunday.

Artists of the 21st Century will be exhibited until April 17, a vibrant vouch for the array of creative capabilities local school children possess.

“The level of quality that comes out of our school systems is amazing,” said museum coordinator Sommer Toffle, who looks most forward to the exhibition each year. “It's comparable to professional artists-the imagination of these kids is fabulous.”

Despite the blustery weather, families, friends, teachers and classmates from Greater Latrobe, Greensburg Salem and Hempfield Area school districts, along with Valley School of Ligonier, turned out to observe the art, enjoy refreshments, chat and enjoy time together.

“It's very exciting,” said Valley School of Ligonier art teacher, Kelly Vallely, who entered 20 pieces in the show. “With the museum setting and children from all over Westmoreland County, it provides a lot of exposure and a chance to mingle with other young artists. I encourage my students to connect with, and work towards, their own authentic voice and vision.”

One of Valley's students, Killian Joseph, 15, was pleasantly surprised that extended family members showed up to check out his DC Comic inspired oil on canvas.

“I didn't know all of these people were coming. It made me feel pretty good.”

The exhibition houses a variety of mediums from K-12 students, not only instilling a sense of pride in the young artists, but also in family members.

“It's wonderful they are doing stuff like this with the kids and arts,” said Thomas Kemerer, uncle of artist Zoey Bromwell, 14. “It gives the kids self confidence.”

Joe Keffer, whose son, Jesse, 7, is participating in the show, mirrored the feeling.

“It's a really nice facility and it's a really good event that the museum does for the kids,” said Keffer. “Jesse, knowing he can create something like that, is a real confidence booster.”

As for Zoey and Jesse, inspiration came from different places. Jesse, who composed a florid butterfly piece, explained that he, “started thinking about colors and testing what would look nice,” while Zoey, when assigned by her art teacher to design something around sliced fruit, went straight for Pomegranate.

“It's pretty much the only fruit I eat,” she laughed. “It's really awesome that the museum does something like this.”

Jesse's older brother, Eli Keffer, 12, beamed over his brother's big day.

“This event is really cool. I'm really excited for him-he did really good on it,”said Eli.

The beauty of the exhibition also emphasizes the beauty of community, allowing everyone, together, to celebrate the craft, hard work, process and product of local school children, and will continue to do so. “We're going on our sixth year,” stated Toffle. “It is one of the favorites that come to the museum.”

Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.