Thursday, February 2, 2023

Youthful creation: Over 300 artworks showcase young talent at CAM’s ‘Kids State of the Art’

Kids dropped off their original art works to Cameron Art Museum and DREAMS Center for Arts Education on Aug. 6 to be featured in Kids State of the Art. (Photo by Alan Cradick)

WILMINGTON — Among plenty of pet and self-portraits, a lego sculpture, and even a 3D rendering of a sub sandwich, 316 pieces of art make their debut to the community Saturday at Cameron Art Museum.

Opening is “Kids State of the Art” — a spinoff to the museum’s “State of the Art/Art of the State” 24-hour art event that opened to creatives in North Carolina in April. Artists were tasked to drop off one piece of art and meet with renowned curators who in turn offered feedback. All 776 works were hung or displayed on the spot by director of exhibitions and collections Bob Unchester and volunteers.

READ MORE: In Photos: CAM’s ‘State of the Art’ garners 776 works, opens to public

According to director of lifelong learning September Krueger, the idea for “Kids State of the Art” evolved from the adult exhibition’s success.

“We wanted to offer a similar experience for our young artists, where they are able to see their work beautifully installed, well lit and celebrated just like the work in our parent exhibition,” she said.

Zachary Alphin with “Luck of a Cat,” now on display at CAM as part of “Kids State of the Art.” (Photo by Alan Cradick)

Five-year-old Zachary Alphin presented “Luck of a Cat,” a mixed-media acrylic painting on canvas that measures 15-foot-by-24-foot. He said it was inspired by a “lucky cat” he purchased from a book store. 

“I love doing art,” Alphin added, especially “coming up with the ideas.”

A student in Cameron Art Museum art classes, Alphin is one of many CAM students featured in the exhibition. Krueger said other works from the museum’s summer camp series are featured.

“Some of our local art teachers supported their students by bringing in as many as a dozen works that their students had chosen to display from their various projects,” she said.

The scope of talent showcases a full range of artmaking: abstract works on paper, representational drawings, various paintings, assemblages and sculptures in clay and fabric. Students from across North Carolina were encouraged to participate, though the majority of works are locally made, Krueger confirmed.

“One photograph represents a project that a student did at a local animal shelter where she interviewed staff and volunteered with the animal care,” Krueger said.

Students from DREAMS Center for Arts Education also took part. A youth development organization dedicated to providing arts education to underserved youth and teens, DREAMS acted as a satellite drop-off point for “Kids State of the Art.” 

The exhibition’s intake took place Aug. 6 and welcomed artists ages 5 to 17, who could deliver a piece of original work to either DREAMS or CAM. All art was hung or displayed on the spot in Studio 1 at CAM and pieces delivered from DREAMS were added thereafter.

“The walls are hung salon style with two-dimensional works,” Krueger explained, “and a collection of three-dimensional pieces are in a special alcove within the space.”

Participating artists will be able to speak with museum staff on Saturday during the exhibit’s opening and community day event. Kruger said executive director Anne Brennan and deputy director Heather Wilson, along with Unchester, will be engaging with the artists, much like the curator element in the adult version but without heavy-handed critique.

On Saturday, admission is free to all exhibits at CAM: “State of the Art/Art of the State” and “20 Years,” featuring the most memorable exhibitions since CAM opened in 2002. Plus, the USCT Sculpture Park, featuring Stephen Hayes’ “Boundless,” and Art Park, showcasing sculptures by Charlie Brouwer, Clyde Jones, Vollis Simpson and others, are open.

There will be a community art project to participate in, guided by local artist Greyson Davis, a.k.a. HP Fangs. A variety of dry media — markers, pencils, colored pencils and oil pastels — will be provided so kids can add to the project throughout the day. 

“Greyson is going to allow the inspiration to come from the kids, so he will build on their ideas as the work will be created across a series of canvases,” Krueger said. 

The final work will go into “Kids State of the Art,” on display through Sept. 25. “State of the Art/Art of the State” remain on exhibit through Oct. 9 and “20 Years” closes in October as well.

A lineup of events are scheduled for community day and a shaved ice truck will be parked on site. It takes place Saturday, Aug. 20, on the museum grounds (3201 South 17th St.).


10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Music Bird Studios

11:30 a.m. – noon – Dance Theatre of Dreams

12 p.m. – 1 p.m. – Carolina Beach Elementary School Ukulele Club (performance and interactivity)

1 p.m. –  3 p.m. – Family Fun Activities

3 p.m. – 4 p.m. – School of Rock

4 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Mr. Mark

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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