NILES - For Alisha Boykin, one of the nicest challenges about art is realizing that anything is possible.
"You learn to look at everything, just simple things around the house, and how they can be used in an art project," said the 16-year-old Canfield High School junior. "It's amazing what you can come up with if you think about it. There's really no limit to it, or how creative you can be."
Jerry Angelo, right, looks at a portrait his 16-year-old granddaughter, Katin Angelo, right, created of her late grandmother, Joan Beck. The work is among dozens created by students from Canfield and Howland school districts on display this month at the Art Outreach Gallery at the Eastwood Mall in Niles. Katin is a junior at Canfield High School. Photo by Bonnie L. Hazen
Boykin's artwork is among dozens created by Howland and Canfield students featured at the Art Outreach Gallery at the Eastwood Mall. She and several Canfield students greeted art gallery visitors on Sunday.
Artwork featured various styles and media, from watercolor and portraiture to three-dimensional pieces such as clay figures and papier mache masks.
"I am really impressed," said Jacci Beam, 46, after looking at some of her daughter's artwork on display with that of other 6th-grade students from Howland Middle School. "This is really cool," she said, smiling as she flipped through the pages of Carly's comic book that was on display with a corresponding clay figurine.
"The Amazing Sprayz" comic book is a mini-adventure of a super hero that comes to the rescue during a bad hair day. The hero is a smiling can of hair spray.
"They had to have sort of a power so I thought it would be cool like the hair spray that sprays out," she explained.
Sixth-grade teacher Alisa Santee from Howland Middle School said her students loved the graffiti art and three-dimensional masks the most.
"I believe that I myself have gotten better from doing art with the students," she said, affirming that anyone can hone their skills with time and practice.
"I have all different units, still-life drawing, portraiture," said Beth Pritchard, 8th grade art teacher from Howland Middle School. "I tried to cover a wide range of media so they can see the different fields of art they can go into. They really liked to work with the clay. Anything with three dimensions."
Santee and Pritchard are both graduates of YSU, and both said they first got their inspiration from their art teachers. Santee said art is important in school because kids are usually going from test to test to test.
"This is where they can be free," she said.
Kathryn Bernard said that as an art teacher she tries to guide her students.
"But it's up to them to be creative and they produce art based on their perceptions and their concepts and ideas," she said.
Another piece of art involved drawing half of a teacher's face.
"We got half of the picture; it's sort of like symmetry, and you had to make the other side of his face," Carly said of her portrait titled, "Mr. Scirocco."
Shelby Crites, 11, a 6th-grader from Howland, said she really enjoyed creating a mask out of papier mache.
"I think it's wonderful for the kids to come see all their hard work," said her mom, Karen Crites, who also commended the teachers in the Howland art program.
Some students attending the art show were not artists themselves, but saw the colorful displays and decided to take a closer look.
"It's crazy, I wish I could do that," said Thomas Salerno, 17, of Niles McKinley High School, referring to a few of the pieces.
Elizabeth Santos, 16, and Rebecca Carroll, 16, agreed, "They're really good."
Katin Angelo, 16, a junior at Canfield, said that although she plans to study forensic science, she will continue to pursuing art as a hobby. Two of her works are included in the exhibit.
"There's a lot of freedom in being able to express yourself through art," she said. "It becomes part of you that you can share with others."