Petropoulos art traditions highlight artistic talent

By Sarah Jolley ’13

This spring, two art traditions engaged students by celebrating the work of both their peers and local artists. Founded in memory of former Art Teacher John Petropoulos, both the Petropoulos Exhibition and the Petropoulos Art Scholars Program are essential to the success of BB&N’s art programs, The Petropoulos Art Scholars Program, which sponsors various on and off campus art events throughout the year, held its final gathering at the Petropoulos Art Exhibition in the Gallery on May 11.

According to Photography Teacher Parrish Dobson, the founders of the Petropoulos Exhibition established the show in order to recognize BB&N students with unique dedication to the arts.

Ms. Dobson says, “Alumnae who loved Mr. Petropoulos started an endowed fund in his honor to annually exhibit the art of students who have developed a distinguished body of work in one medium.”

Mr. Norton says, “The show is reserved for students who have demonstrated their commitment by accumulating a collection of work over three to four years. Anyone can make one great piece, but this show is for those who create a group of work tied
together in some way.”

According to Art Department faculty, several factors contribute to the students’ eligibility to participate in the show.

Art Gallery coordinator Laura Tangusso says, “Prior to the show, the visual arts teachers meet each year to discuss which of their students has created work that best fits the criteria of the exhibition, [which include] craftsmanship, inventiveness of expression, and consistency of effort and vision over time. We then discuss with each chosen student which pieces best represent their work collectively.”

Ms. Dobson adds that students not continuing in their medium next year are especially eligible for a place in the show.

The exhibit made the selected students feel that their work is important to the BB&N community. Katharine Kettner ’13, who has work in acrylics and spraypaint in the exhibit, says, “It makes me excited that others are interested in my art. I really love to talk about it, and people seemed more inclined to talk to me about it after the exhibit went up.”

Photography student Axel Lopez ’13 says, “I was honored that Ms. Dobson recommended me for the exhibit, especially since this is the last year I’m taking photography. It’s awesome that I get to end my art career with this experience.”

This year, half of the artists that were included in the exhibit were photography students, which, according to Mr. Norton, is unusual.

Ms. Tangusso says, “It often depends on the year. This year, there were a lot more photography students, so it would make sense that they were more represented in the show. On the other hand, there was no clay work in the show–most likely because the pottery program has recently been in flux.”

In addition to the Petropoulos Exhibition, the Petropoulos Art Scholar program has had an exceptionally successful year, according to the program’s director, Ms. Dobson. This program funds various on and off campus events for students sporadically throughout the year, including visits to Harrison Avenue open studios, on campus gallery talks from guest artists, musical performances, and trips to theatrical productions.

“This year, we had about 50 students sign up for the program, and within that, about 35 have been designated ‘Petropoulos Art Scholars’ on their transcript by attending over 75 percent of the events we sponsor,” Ms. Dobson says. “We’ve also held over 17
events this year—more events than any year in the past.”

According to Mr. Norton, the purpose of the program is to expose students to a variety of enticing artistic experiences both in Boston and at school. Mr. Norton says, “The events aim to generate lots of different kinds of experiences for students that they might not hear about or make time for if the program didn’t exist.”

This is the second year that the Art Scholar program has included theatrical productions in its series of events. Mr. Norton says, “The new theater aspect has attracted an audience of students interested in the performing arts. The program keeps on growing, and hopefully we’ll be able to include more music events next year to spark interest in the program from that group of students as well.” According to the participants in the Art Scholar program, the program helps unite students with similar interests in the arts.

However, these students note that, if better publicized, these events could act as catalysts to help those not immersed in the arts explore a new interest.

“Although the events are advertised in What’s Happenin’,” Blaire Hunter ’14 says, “I know many students who don’t check that conference and wouldn’t know about the events. You also have to sign up at the beginning of the year to be on the email list, and if you’re not in an art class where the teacher recommends it, you’ll probably lose the opportunity to attend the events.”

In addition, some students in the program note that the overlap with athletic schedules makes it difficult for students involved in sports to take advantage of the Art Scholar Program.

Noah Bierbrier ’14 says, “There are often sports conflicts that interfere with the events. I do crew, and it makes it difficult to attend the events, especially if they’re right after school.”

One Comment

  1. Chris Young

    Both my sister and I remember now encouraging Mr. Petropoulos was in our BB&N arts class back in the early 1970s. I was no ceramics genius, but he made me feel like one!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.