Molly Mamay expresses her love of nature in her art.
The East Hampton High School senior describes her work as “biophilic,” and when it came time to craft a piece for the annual Guild Hall Student Art Festival, she knew exactly what to do: incorporate leaves she collected and dried during her internship with the East Hampton Garden Club last year.
“Nature has its own type of art within itself,” Molly said.
Her finished piece is titled “Patterns in Nature” and will be one of the many works of art by students displayed at Guild Hall starting Saturday. Now in its 28th year, the festival this year introduced an overarching theme to bring students’ artistic experiences together in a cohesive way. That theme is “Made by Water.”
“It’s an incredible experience to be a young artist and see your work on the wall here,” said Anthony Madonna, Guild Hall’s Patti Kenner fellow in arts education. “We’re allowing students to create an idea and really interrogate a concept.”
He visited schools to give students prompts for the “Made by Water” theme.
“I was searching for a way to connect it all together,” Mr. Madonna said. “Hopefully as you walk through the exhibit, you will see diverse viewpoints on water.”
Anni Spacek, an East Hampton High School junior, made a mixed-media collage inspired by sea level rise, a mermaid hanging onto a tree, titled “Sway.” It’s her first year entering a piece in the show.
“Especially because it has a meaning, I like that it’s going to be seen,” Anni said. “Teenagers are aware of the issues that are going on, and are choosing to do something.”
About 2,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, from South Fork public and private schools or being home schooled, submitted a solo or group project for the festival.
“We love that we can dedicate the gallery to them,” said Casey Dalene, a curatorial assistant at Guild Hall and the Lewis B. Cullman associate for museum education. “That’s how you cultivate an appreciation for the arts going forward. Hopefully they’ll visit museums and continue that relationship. I believe it’s so important.”
The festival officially opens on Saturday, and a reception is planned for Jan. 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. It will feature musical performances, dance numbers, refreshments, and film screenings. There will be a high school awards ceremony hosted by Guild Hall’s Teen Arts Council on Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. to wrap up the show.
The Teen Arts Council is “a nice way to talk to kids who have the same love for art that I do,” said Amanda Krahe, an East Hampton High School junior who is a member of the council. “We like coming up with opportunities for the community involving art.”
The awards this year will be adjudicated by Virva Hinnemo, a well-known artist and educator here, in categories representing each medium.
Mary McCann, an East Hampton junior, said the festival helps students’ artwork have another life. “Usually when I finish something I put it away and move on to the next thing,” she said. The festival is “a special opportunity — not something that every student has the chance to do. It’s interesting to see my work with all the other students’ work.”
Ms. Dalene, a mother of two from Springs, said artistic opportunities for children mean so much.
“We ask, ‘Why do you love art?’ “she said. “They say, ‘I can do whatever I want. There’s nothing wrong in art. I can use my imagination. Art changes the world.’ It’s an expression for children before they can really communicate in words.”