SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – March is Youth Art Month (YAM) in New Jersey and throughout the month students from every county in the state will exhibit their artwork at various galleries and museums. On a local front, the works of three South Plainfield High School (SPHS) seniors will be on display at the county YAM exhibit taking place at Middlesex County College this month.

This year, SPHS students in Allison McLaughlin’s Advanced Studio class submitted several pieces for the show and, collectively, the works of Aayush Gandhi (pencil drawing), Natalie Romano (acrylic painting), and Nina Vick (acryclic painting) were selected. Additionally, all student artwork is featured online at

For the contest, students had artistic freedom with the only requirement being that submission be done in 2D. The artwork of Romano, Gandhi and Vick will be on display March 12 through March 18 in Middlesex County College’s College Center Student Gallery, 2600 Woodbridge Avenue, Edison with a reception taking place March 18 from 12 to 2 p.m. Additionally, by submitting work to the county show, students have the potential to move on to the State Youth Art Month Exhibit taking place at the State House in Trenton later this spring.

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Throughout her 11-year career – nine of which have been at SPHS – McLaughlin has submitted her students’ artwork to various exhibits and contests. Most recently, senior Katie Reo’s charcoal drawing was featured in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s (NJPAC) 2017 Late Winter Exhibit held in conjunction with Art Educators of New Jersey (AENJ) last month.

“I try to provide all of my students with various art opportunities and encourage all of my students to participate in these art shows because they are a great way for them to showcase their tremendous talent outside of South Plainfield,” said McLaughlin.

“Not only does AENJ provide these wonderful shows which showcase our talented students, they also provide professional development for teachers and scholarships for our students.”

Events such as the YAM exhibit, added McLaughlin, help enrich students understanding of art outside of school and art as a career. “I am tremendously proud of my students who step outside of their comfort zone and submit their artwork for exhibition,” she said, “It is one thing to critique their artwork as a class, but when you are submitting your work for county and state shows, you never know the caliber of students whom you are competing against.”

McLaughlin continued, “Not only is it a great honor to have your work selected for exhibit, it is personally gratifying to have your artistic ability further validated.” 

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