One of the biggest events of the year for the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, the annual student art show, is now under way, with more than 200 pieces of art representing the creativity and talent of the school's sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.

An opening reception for the Davies Student Art Exhibit takes place March 12 from 7 to 8 p.m., at the Mays Landing Branch of the Atlantic County Library System on Farragut Avenue. The event was postponed from last week because of the winter storm.

The show always coincides with the celebration of Youth Art Month in March, said art teachers Sherry Mirakian Mourning and Kathleen Marandino.

Youth Art Month is the annual observance that takes place each March to emphasize the value of art and art education for all children and to encourage public support for quality school art programs.

The library has been the traditional site of the school's exhibit because it offers more space and the opportunity for more people to view the works.

"The students are very excited. They've worked hard, and it's a very impressive display," said Marandino, who stressed that the show is an all-inclusive event and represents students in all educational levels at the school.

The exhibit is a showcase of works students from both art teachers have put together in class so far this year.

Last year, the art program at Davies split into two tracks. Marandino teaches a graphic art track that focuses on modern styles and computer programs such as Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator. Mourning teaches the traditional arts track, covering fine art such as portraits, pastels, pottery and basic metalwork.

"It's a really varied show this year. The fact that we have computer-generated art and the fine arts together is really interesting," said Mourning, who has been at the Davies School for 26 years and actually helped design the art room when the school was first built.

One of the highlights of the show is the series of self portraits sketched in pencil by eighth-graders. To create the black and white images, the students sat themselves in front of mirrors and really had to capture what they saw, Mourning said.

Marandino, who has been at the school since 2000, said even at the middle school level, she can see a passion for the arts from the students.

The seventh graders, for instance, studied the works of Andy Warhol before they created their own pop-art style prints by carving into linoleum blocks. Marandino said she always encourages students to try different ways to express their talents.

Wednesday's reception is an opportunity for the student artists to show their works to family, friends, school staff, members of the Hamilton Township School Board and invited guests from the community. Refreshments will be served, provided by the Hamilton Township Education Association.

The exhibit will be on display throughout the first floor of the library until March 28. It can be viewed during regular library hours.

Contact Lucia C. Drake:

609-272-7295

If you go

What:

William Davies Middle School Art Exhibit opening reception

When:

7-8 p.m. March 12

Where:

Atlantic County Library/Mays Landing, 40 Farragut Ave., Mays Landing

More info:

Call 609-625-6600, ext. 2.