An exhibit of student artwork from all four Portland Public Schools high schools will be on display March 31 – April 21 at the Portland Public Library’s Lewis Gallery. The “Art Class” exhibit not only features student work but also was curated by a Portland High School student as part of that school’s extended learning opportunity (ELO) internship program.
Art Class features artwork from Portland High School, Deering High School, Casco Bay High School, and Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS). All art students attending these schools were encouraged to submit work to be displayed in the show with the optional theme of “identity.” Portland Public Library said in a statement that it is “honored to be hosting this exhibition, which gives students the rare opportunity to publicly display their artwork in their own community. We hope that it will encourage students to continue pursuing and creating art beyond the classroom.”
Rachael Harkness, the library’s gallery and special programs coordinator, said, “We love to support local students and the art gallery is another way we can be a resource. The Lewis Gallery is a community gallery which is frequently visited by students and classes. Hosting the high school art exhibit is a great opportunity for these hard-working artists to showcase their work.”
Portland High senior Hannah Caron curated the show as part of her ELO internship at the library.
“This internship has been an amazing opportunity for me to learn about and practice curating an art exhibit, which is something I hope to do as a future career,” Hannah said. “I've really enjoyed the process, although it was challenging at times. The effort of organizing everything was more than worth it when I saw the show finally come together. I'm glad that so many students got the chance to share their work that they're proud of. I think it's really important to empower student artists to continue creating, and being able to do that has been one of the best parts of this opportunity.”
Andrea Levinsky, Portland High’s ELO coordinator, said the library internship is just one example of the variety of opportunities offered through the school’s internship program, which is going strong. Dozens of students each year participate in the program, which was founded more than a decade ago. The program is open to all students and serves all types of students.
Other student internship sites include Greenbacker Capital, WCKD Collective, Baristas + Bites, the Portland Sea Dogs, WMPG, the Boys and Girls Club, Fluky Fiction Publishing, the Greater Portland Community Land Trust, the Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation, SCG, Youth and Family Outreach, the engineering, biology, and athletics department at the University of Southern Maine and Keller Williams Realty.
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 49.8 percent of the district’s students are white and 50.2 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.