From left, art teacher Lynda Leonas stands with student Amelia Lavoie and sixth-grade teacher Erin Breau, Walton Elementary School, at the Youth Art Month celebration.

AUBURN — Three Auburn sixth-grade students celebrated Youth Art Month, celebrated from Feb. 26 to Mar. 29, with the Maine Art Education Association and the Portland Museum of Art (PMA). The work was to be returned at the end of March; however, due to the closure of the museum during the COVID-19 epidemic, the artwork remains hanging among the museum’s extraordinary collection for an undetermined amount of time.

Each year student work is selected to highlight the arts education program in school districts throughout the state during March, the month identified to celebrate youth art nationwide. The 2019-2020 school calendar year found three sixth-grade students from three Auburn elementary schools making art with such confidence that it was not until after the selections that their teachers realized it is the first time three students in the same grade level represented Auburn during the exhibit.

Fairview Elementary art teacher Stephen Amoroso chose Sophie Cote’s “Flower Bulbs” painting, and her combination of surrealism with pop art for the manner in which “she pushed a great idea.” Using the dreamlike qualities of surrealism and the repetition of pop art concepts, Sophie relied upon the realistic illustration of a light bulb within her artwork to create a dynamic composition.

Walton and Washburn Elementary art teacher Lynda Leonas chose Amelia Lavoie’s illustration to represent Walton Elementary School. Amelia’s realistic portrait was chosen for her use of value and her placement of the highlights to create a three-dimensional quality in the facial features. Relying upon realism and techniques studied in fifth grade to shade geometric forms, Amelia worked outside her weekly scheduled classes in order to transfer her learning into the illustration of a human, organic form.

Leonas chose Madysin Silvia’s mixed media painting to represent Washburn Elementary School. Using a tinted yet opaque color palette over her ink rendering, Madysin responded to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s neo-expressionist graffiti-styled art works with her own representation of mood expressed in portraits. Basquiat’s portraits utilized vivid colors to represent recognizable human forms and their emotions.

The Portland Museum of Art sponsored and hosted the Maine Arts Education Association’s Youth Art Month celebration with 114 student artists participating from across the state. The three students received certificates of participation and celebrated with family and teachers at the museum.

This year’s YAM celebration offered a make-and-take art station featuring laser cut pins promoting the Maine 200 Bicentennial. The themed pins highlighting Maine images, including lobsters and pine cones, were created and laser cut by Maine Art Education Association member Caroline Brown and her students at Camden Hills Regional High School.

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