The next generation of talented local artists showcased their original works of art Wednesday night at the Baton Rouge Gallery at BREC’s City Park.

Dozens of high school students from throughout East Baton Rouge Parish earned the honor of having their art prominently displayed as part of the Gallery’s REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCE Juried High School Exhibition.

“Every year they blow us away really,” Jason Andreasen, Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Gallery, said. “There are works in this show every April that could easily stand next to professional artists. The amount of talent that we have in East Baton Rouge Parish, just in the high school students alone is spellbinding on an annual basis.”   

13 area schools combined to showcase more than 60 pieces of art with students from EBRPSS schools Baton Rouge Magnet, Belaire, Lee Magnet, Tara and Woodlawn in attendance. 

Joshua Rochester, a freshman at Belaire High School, proudly displayed his work.

“I just enjoy being around people who can draw,” Rochestor said. “It’s encouraging. Just let the artists’ work speak for itself.”

Tim Barbier, Rochester’s Art Teacher at Belaire added, “It’s great seeing Joshua tonight talking about a piece that he’s working on right now. Connecting with people, talking about how to get it sold. It’s great.”

Christopher Brumfield, an Art Instructor at Baton Rouge Community College, juried the event.

“I grew up as an artist in Baton Rouge,” Brumfield said. “I went to McKinley High. As young artists, we didn’t have an outlet for anything like this. One of the things the Baton Rouge Gallery is doing now is to give an outlet to high school students, give them a taste of what it’s like to be an artist, let them see what it feels like to show your work, and it’s a weird thing because it’s scary. Everyone can see what you’ve done. You can’t take it back.”

Andreasen added, “It’s incredibly valuable. Over the years we’ve seen it change a lot of kids’ image of what their art is, what it means. Their self-confidence, things like that. All while giving them a real taste of what life is like as real artists.”

“A lot of times you have kids think of art as just something they do in school, and it doesn’t go beyond that. This way they get to see their work in a professional gallery. See what kind of response the community might have to it. In some instances, they may sell their work, and it does a lot for their sense of self worth when they see that kind of response to their artwork.”

More than $1,000 was awarded to stand-out artists. Students receiving honorable mention status included Zachary St. Amant (BR Magnet), J Dornier (Lee High) and Abigail Jahnke (BR Magnet).

The big winner of the evening was Margret Ellis (BR Magnet, April Hammock), who earned Best In Show and a $600 Prize for “Self Portrait With A Sinus Infection”. 

This year’s REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCE Juried High School Exhibition is sponsored by Cordell & Ava Haymon. The exhibit will run from April 4th – 27th at the Baton Rouge Gallery.