Pickerington Schools' officials rolled out the red carpet May 13 as the district celebrated art projects created by students from Tussing Elementary School, Toll Gate Middle School and Pickerington High School Central.

The works are expected to be displayed into September in the new Student Art Gallery, located in the main hallway of the Pickerington Schools district office, 90 N. East St., in Olde Pickerington Village.

The gallery is a new way the district is displaying talents of students at all grade levels.

"It's huge," said Alison Siewny, a Tussing art teacher who had work by 35 students selected for display. "Music has a voice, so they have concerts and you see them at the football games.

"In (visual) art, there isn't a platform other than at school and our virtual gallery we have online.

"This makes it tangible. The kids love seeing it out in the hallway at school, but then when they make it in here, that just makes it that much more real."

The opening exhibit of the gallery featured everything from ceramics and 2D and 3D drawings and sculptures to photographs, headwear and costumes.

Tussing third-grader Abigail Rhoton was on hand and excited as she found her ceramic UniKitty -- her own version of characters part feline, part unicorn popularized by a LEGO animation -- on display.

"It just kind of popped in my head," Rhoton said of her inspiration for the piece. "When it was clay, you just used your imagination and shaped it.

Rhoton said her inclusion in the gallery marked the first time her art had been publicly displayed somewhere other than her school.

"It's a more of a special exposure to the public than the school glass (cases) that showcase art," Rhoton said.

Another student whose art was selected for the opening of the gallery was Toll Gate fifth-grader Connor Cunningham, who painted a seascape.

He explained how he used different sized paintbrushes and different brushing techniques to detail rolling waves and the horizon.

"You want to get the horizon line about halfway up," Cunningham said.

"Once you do that, then you've got your sky, your water, your waves, and then lunar sun depending on which kind of daylight you have or darkness."

Cunningham said he chose a seascape for his project because he loves fishing, and noted that oceans are perfect art subjects.

"I just love the ocean and how much detail it has," he said.

The Student Art Gallery will be open 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays during summer break.

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