RANDOLPH – On display at the Turner Free Library is a piece of art titled “Take the Mic” done in a passionate pink and featuring a girl singing confidently onstage.
Standing next to it just as confidently on a recent weekday was the artist, 17-year-old Nhu Vo, of Randolph High School. She is one of nine teenage art interns at the library who created work for the new Randolph Teen Art Gallery, an idea Young Adult Librarian Melissa Bennett came up with while brainstorming how to better connect with teens.
In February, Bennett gathered the nine teen artists and invited local artist Jamaal Eversley to be their mentor. Bennett provided each student with a theme for their artwork, and students are free to create whatever they like based on the theme.
“I wanted them to create a piece that meant something to them,” she said.
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The artwork will be displayed in the library’s Teen Room.
Isabella Luu, 17, picked the theme “The Breakthrough.” It took her only one hour to come up with a rough draft, and she took her inspiration from the symbolism in Asian art.
She drew a Japanese woman holding an umbrella. Behind her is a crane heading to the sun, representing hope. A red rope hanging from her shoulder represents fate, Luu said.
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‘They continue to inspire’
A gallery opening was held June 6. State Sen. Walter Timilty, D-Milton, offered the participating students Senate citations. Each intern also received $250 for their work.
Pleased with the outcome, Bennett and Eversley said they hope to hold the event again in the upcoming school year.
“They continue to inspire the other teens just by having their piece hanging here,” Bennett said.
Other teens asked her to include them in the program after seeing the artwork installation, she said.
Eversley said, “Every single piece blew me away. These guys have something to say. It shows they are leaders. They have shown their motivation and creativity.”
Putting the art to use
Bennett created the gallery in part to expand her Teen Lit subscription box, a monthly service she launched last year. Through the free service, she puts together boxes containing a book, candy and a gift for each teen who she has subscribed. She has 32 subscribers.
“It was about giving the teens in the program something to look forward to monthly,” she said.
The works created for the gallery will be used in different ways as part of the subscription box until February 2023. Luu’s work, for example, will be featured on a planner and sent to the subscribers in the new year, which she said fits her art’s theme of hopefulness. Other artworks will be printed on items such as beach towels and puzzles.
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Reach Hongyu Liu at [email protected]