NEWTON, NJ - The Teen Arts Festival kicked off at Sussex County Community College on March 20 with an exhibit of students art work and an evening reception for visual and studio art for the public to attend.

Over 600 pieces of original artwork from students in Sussex County filled the rooms and decorated the walls and table displays within the campus.
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Over 22 schools among the county including middle school, high school, private and dance school, were eligible to have their artwork featured in the annual event which takes place every March.

“We include the dance schools because dance is really not offered in the schools,” said Teen Arts Coordinator, Stella Trikouros. 
Trikouros then explained, “The basic idea for teen arts is for students to share their work with others and professional artists to get feedback from them. They are critiqued and critiqued well. It is not like America Idol, they are encouraged. Writers are critiqued in advance and then a discussion takes place.”

Trikouros mentioned that there is nothing in the state like the teen arts festival in Sussex County which brings guests from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut along to the event that has been up and running since 1969.
The advantages of the Teen Arts Festival are the educational workshops that help students practice a form of art they are most interested in.
Some workshops had “stop ’n go” where students can work with artists and leave when they want as opposed to a normal workshop that lasts about an hour and limits how many students can become involved.
The “stop ‘n go” art stations included: positive energy art, beaded key chain, fun with watercolor, bookmaking, hand thrown poetry, origami with money, henna tattoos, fused jewelry, fun with paper making collages and woodcarving.
Visual art workshops throughout the day included: life drawing, mosaic tile, tile making, silk painting, African clay mask making, illustrating fashion, iPhone photography and editing workshops, Native American style drum necklace, experimental chalk drawing, rings and things jewelry, game art graphics, clay works, basketry, floral arrangements and landscape drawing.
An open poetry jam workshop was held for those interested in creative writing, and a hip hop workshop and improvisation were held for dance.
Mime, magic and balloon workshops, improvisation matrix, acting as a business, and meet and talk with actor Sam Kitchin, were all available for theatre.
“The thing students love is being recognized,” Trikouros said. "And seeing what other teens are thinking and doing.”
“Everything in it has art,” said Trikouros, as she pointed to a hat and jewelry. “One does not have to be great at the arts but it does not mean they cannot appreciate it. Art helps people think outside the box. We do not do teen arts with the hope every student will pursue it but some do in the future.”
Students also get selected for their artwork to be featured in other exhibits and gallerias.
On April 17, a performing arts showcase will be taking place in the Performing Arts Center at Sussex County Community College.
The program which is to “celebrate the diverse artistic accomplishments of New Jersey students and schools. Since its inception in 1969, its goal has been to encourage middle and high school students to explore their potential and fine-tune their talents in the fine, literary, and performing arts including vocal music, instrumental music, dance, theater, creative writing, visual arts, photography, and video.”
“I’m impressed with what students can produce,” said Trikoros, “The teachers give them the tools they need and exposure. The phenomenal part is our teen arts alumni come back and have workshops. You can go into any profession but always come back to art.”
The Teen Arts Festival is made possible by Sussex County Community College with money raised by donations, school fees, and grants.

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