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College students get first opportunity to display their art

Museum of American History show runs through March 17

Many aspiring student artists never get a chance to display their work at major galleries in cities like Philadelphia and New York.

Getting that first show at a smaller gallery is difficult, but 15 young artists from Rowan and Stockton universities and Camden County College received that opportunity thanks to the Student Art Show at the Museum of American History in Deptford that opened on March 4 and runs through March 17.

“I am so appreciative that the museum gave me an opportunity to display my artwork,” said Savannh Simpkins, 23, a student at Rowan University in Glassboro who is studying for a Fine Arts degree.

Savannh Simpkins shows her oil painting of downtown Bridgeton. She is a Rowan student pursuing a fine arts degree. ALBERT J. COUNTRYMAN Jr./The Sun

She chose her oil painting, Dissociation, for the show, and it depicts a building in downtown Bridgeton with various shades of blue for the sky.

“I hope to graduate in May 2025 and work with a graphic design company. I will still continue with my painting,” Simpkins said.

Rileigh Wilson, 18, a freshman with a graphic design major at Stockton University, Galloway, said, “This is my first professional art show. It is a great opportunity for college students.”

Rileigh Wilson has her charcoal pencil drawing of the back of her jeep in the museum exhibit. “It’s a great opportunity for college students,” she noted of the exhibit. ALBERT J. COUNTRYMAN Jr./The Sun

Using a charcoal pencil on plain bristle paper, Wilson creates different shades of black and gray by varying the pressure she puts on her pencil. She chose to display her drawing, “Great White,” which depicts the back of her jeep.

Ethan Whalen of Haddon Heights, who graduated from Rowan University in 2022, said he would like to be a professional photographer despite majoring in business management.

The Deptford Museum of American History’s exhibit of student art features Ethan Whalen’s color photograph of a butterfly. He is a graduate of Rowan. The exhibit continues through Friday. ALBERT J. COUNTRYMAN Jr./The Sun

“This show is awesome, and a great opportunity for all of us,” said Whalen, who had three of his photos on display – Jamie, Kenny and Jennifer.

Proving it is never too late to pursue one’s dreams of being a great artist, Doris Ryan, 57, who is studying art therapy at Camden County College, had three of her acrylic paintings on display.

Doris Ryan holds her acrylic painting of Dorothy and her friends from The Wizard of Oz falling asleep in a poppy field. Her piece is part of the student art show at Deptford’s Museum of American History. ALBERT J. COUNTRYMAN Jr./The Sun

Poppies is an interesting depiction of the Wizard of Oz characters falling asleep in the poppy field, and her paintings European café and Jesus the Prince of Peace were very striking.

“I want to use art to help people in therapy or with mental health issues,” she said.

The other artists in the Student Art Show at the museum located at 138 Andaloro Way in Deptford included Rowan University students Emily Klassen, Marlaina Schiman, Valentine Gottschling, Sierra Tung, Emily Murray and Abby Leitinger, and Camden County College students Madelyne Cozens, Deanna Moore, Tan Dung Ngo, Heather Steen and Leah Kennedy.

“The art show is very important for them, especially those in fine arts,” said Jeffrey Norcross, the founder and curator at the museum. “It gives the students a chance to display their work.”

One of the visitors to the show opening was Maureen Peters, the art consultant for Deptford Township.

“This is wonderful for these students. They need to get experience and exposure,” Peters said. “It takes a lot of initiative to show their work, and being in a show builds their self-esteem. It teaches them how to display and frame their artwork.”

Norcross encouraged those visiting the Student Art Show to look at the museum’s permanent exhibits, which include artifacts from the Pre-Columbian through the Colonial Era, antique hand tools and equipment, the Pine Barrens, Glass and a new fossil exhibit.

The museum is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children, with group rates available. For information call (856) 812-1121 or go to www.southjerseymuseum.org.

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