CHATHAM, NJ - For the first time ever, Chatham art teachers from all five schools in the district -- Washington Avenue School, Milton Avenue School, Southern Boulevard School, Chatham Middle School, and Chatham High School -- have collaborated to host a district wide art exhibition.

The event kicked off on Wednesday night, and continued into a second night on Thursday in the Chatham Middle School upper gymnasium.

“We wanted to show the progression of how our students work has evolved from kindergarten all the way through high school,” Kiera Spadaro, Chatham High School art teacher, said. “And just as teachers at Chatham, being able to come together and work on something jointly because we’re all in different buildings. It’s great to collaborate and do something on a really big scale to show the community what we’re doing as a group.”

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The art show is arranged in ascending order based on grade level and level of advancement. The first half of the gymnasium features the selective artwork of especially talented kindergartners through fifth graders. Included in this section of the exhibit are ceramic lily pads and masks crafted by K-3 students, paper mache creations from the iconic Lafayette Head Show, and even a section dedicated to impressive pieces created by SDOC’s art teachers themselves.

The second room of the exhibit highlights the work of the middle school and high school art classes of all levels. The first row is dedicated to particularly admirable artwork created by students in grades 6-8, featuring the 6th graders’ ceramic bowls, the 7th graders’ expressive ceramic heads, and the 8th graders’ impressionist landscapes.

The high school section begins with a display for students who excelled in their basic art courses - including ceramics, drawing, studio art, painting, and metal and fiber arts. The exhibit then progresses into more advanced work, ending the show by highlighting the masterpieces of talented art students in the high school’s AP Studio Art class -- a two year course that allows students to select either a drawing or 3D emphasis.

Students who participated in AP Studio Art with a drawing emphasis exhibited a collection of their pieces along with an explanation for the reasoning behind their chosen concentration. AP Studio Art students with a 3D emphasis similarly explained the reasoning behind the chosen theme in their 3D exhibit.

“The turnout has been fantastic so far,” Spadaro said. “We’ve gotten great feedback so far and it’s really exciting to see it all come to fruition.”

SDOC’s art teachers even designed the event to be interactive to members of the community. Included in each room of the exhibit were “Make Yourself a Masterpiece” photo stands, in which younger students at Chatham were able to take a picture of their faces in cut outs of “The Scream” and “American Gothic,” or dressed up as Crayola crayons.

“We’d definitely like to make it an annual event,” Spadaro said. “We already have ideas for doing things better and differently for next time, but we wanted to get it off the ground for our inaugural year. And we’re hoping to extend the hours maybe and time so that senior citizens can come and the grade schools can take trips over during the day.”

Members of the community were also able to cast their ballots for their favorite piece of middle school and high school 2D and 3D artwork. The winners of the ballot were announced on Thursday evening, at the end of the second day of the exhibit.