Camden, NJ—Creative Arts Morgan Village Academy [CAMVA] sophomore Phillip Funches never imagined that his artwork would hang on the walls of a museum.
"When I think of a museum, I think of other works of art that I think are way better than mine because they spend so much time on it," said Phillip.
However on Sunday, Phillip—along with a number of other CAMVA students—got to see just that at the opening reception of CAMVA's "Artistic Visions" exhibition at Woodmere Art Museum in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia.
The artwork of CAMVA students in grades six through 12 will be displayed on the walls of the Helen Millard Children's Gallery at the Woodmere Art Museum from now until Aug. 25.
"We’ve been to many museums where we’ve seen artwork that’s so intricate and detailed and you think, 'Oh I'm not like that, I don’t think my art could be at a museum,'" said junior Celeste Rodriguez. "But actually getting a chance to have your artwork, especially at Woodmere ... it's really inspiring to have it here."
"Actually seeing mine in here, it's an honor," said Phillip.
CAMVA visual arts teacher Elbrite Brown said there was no way he could turn down the opportunity to have his student's artwork displayed in the museum.
"I knew of the room where the student work was displayed, but I knew it was usually Philadelphia schools, and I never thought to ask whether this would be an opportunity possible for New Jersey schools as well," said Brown, who added that it was children's book author and friend of CAMVA Lorraine Carey who helped make the exhibition happen.
"... she said the exhibit would be at the Woodemere Museum, and at that point that’s when I just started losing my mind," Brown said.
Along with students from Brown's classes at CAMVA, works from the students of the other visual arts teacher at CAMVA Brian McAndrew's class were also on display.
"We work on different projects, and we have a certain idea of what its going to look like. But what happens is each kid brings their own creativity to it and their own ideas to it its kind of like a finger print," said McAndrews at Sunday's opening reception. "It's similar because their projects are all based around a certain theme, but they’re all unique."
Everything from animal masks made out of recycled cardboard, to doodles, to portaits, to digital art was on display for the public to see.
"When I saw the other strangers looking at our work, there was a man ... he was so wild-eyed and tried to get a woman to come in and see the work. It felt good seeing that, he was like a child again," said Celeste, who said she plans on attending Rowan University to study art.
Sophomore Maria Tineo's sense of humor came through when she said it was "nice" that people outside of CAMVA would get to see her animal mask.
"I think its nice because most people won’t know two of the horns fell off during the moving process. It looks goofy with two tiny horns on top, it's funny to think that people will think it has two tiny horns on purpose," said Maria.
Hildy Tow, director of education at the Woodmere, called the student's creativity "life sustaining."
"We have never seen such amazing art work, so to all of the artists and teachers, we applaud you,"said Tow. "People are just coming through these galleries and saying, 'wow.' The creativity, the craftsmanship, the imagination—it's all astounding."
Brown added that the exhibit would not have been possible without the help from all of the CAMVA staff.
"I look at some of the projects and I go, this isn’t just my class, this is English class, this is math class ... we have a colleague that helps with technology, we have people who help to organize things, help us promote different things ... I could go on and on," said Brown.
For Philip, who made an animal mask painted in a checkerboard pattern, the amount of work made him want to give up at times.
"I wanted to give up so many times," said Phillip. "When I thought of the checkerboard, I thought it was going to be so easy. It took so long ... but it was worth it in the end."