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One River winter exhibit displays diverse range of personal art projects by Lea rivel '22

All photos by Lea Rivel '22

In the midst of COVID-19, the Westport community is utilizing unique ways to bring the people together. Art and culture are very important to this unity, and One River found a way to put that on display.

The art studio’s winter exhibition took place Sunday, Jan. 24 on Main Street and surrounding locations, where viewers were able to take an outdoor “gallery walk” to look at the displays.

Two hundred total students from younger to older, beginner to advanced, coming from a variety of backgrounds, all gather for classes at One River. They offer courses from Pre-K to adults with a variety of themes: cartooning, drawing, digital, portfolio development, manga and art shuffle classes that include sculpting, painting, drawing and mixed media technique. This exhibit showcased work from every type of class and age group.

According to Alyson Luck, the Director of One River, their studio is inspired by contemporary art work.

“Every class looks at a contemporary artist and gets inspired. That’s the jumping off point to make their own personal work,” Luck said. “So, we try to be really contemporary, and expose people to art history as well as what’s going on now.”

Sowmya Sankaran, an adult student, showed up at the event as her own pieces were showcased, but because she loves looking at all the kids’ art as well.

“I wouldn’t have thought of making such beautiful art when I was eight or nine, or even five or six,” Sankaran said, “so it’s beautiful to see that it’s being nurtured and helped to bring [their abilities] out.”

Inspiration for her pieces came from Indian art forms, which she enjoys because of the natural diversity of art forms from the country.

“Indian art [contains] all these ancient epics and stories that come up in history. Even currently, houses are painted with stories on them in vibrant, earthy colors, [which] makes me want to come back to them,” Sankaran said. “It’s something I want to bring forward for people to see, because when we talk about the art world, it’s more about [other cultures], but not as much about Indian forms.”

According to Sankaran, her pieces take about a week and a half, but she keeps coming back to them to make improvements while working on her other pieces.

“I am never satisfied; I keep going back to the pieces and find new ways to improve on them,” Sankaran said. “I take a break from one, go to the next, then come back whenever I feel inspired.”

Allison Cancro ’25 also had work being shown downtown on Sunday. She’s in a digital art shuffle class, and was happy to see all the students’ work laid out. Her digital comic was made with photoshop, and used solely black and white.

“It was a pretty long project,” she said. “It took about five or six weeks, [which] in my art group, we call a never-ending project.”

Since the project started around Halloween, she went with a witch and cauldron theme, but her original theme was actually the mixed up fairytale.

“That’s why you see a lot of comics up here with inspirations like the Little Red Riding Hood parody,” Cancro said.

Harper Iglehart ’28, a Long Lots student, was excited to see her vibrant drawing during the exhibit as well.

“I’m happy that they put our stuff up, because we worked really hard on it, and it’s nice to see,” she said.

Her piece took about five classes, or around 10 hours, and was inspired by a main character from a cartoon she likes.

“He’s a very bubbly character and has an interesting design,” Iglehart said, “so I thought I’d draw him.”

Classes have been capped at eight people due to the coronavirus, but the staff is just glad they have been able to run similarly to the way it was before the pandemic.

“Especially during [COVID-19], the community has been so supportive of us, and we’re just really grateful that we can still be providing in person art classes,” Alyson Luck said.

Overall, the event was a cultural and social success, and inspired gratitude and hopefulness for the studio’s future with Westporters.

“We’re incredibly proud of all the artists from our school,” Ria Perge, Assistant Director of Education at One River, said. “They did an amazing job with this show. We couldn’t be happier with the turnout, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.”

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Lea Rivel Rivel
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