Canberra's young and emerging artists are finally getting their chance to shine at the annual Step into the Limelight art exhibition, which opened on Friday.
More than 300 students from schools across the territory, including Jervis Bay, are involved in this year's showcase ranging from the preschool to college years and alternate education centres like Muliyan.
Students have not held back their creativity with artworks ranging in mediums from painting, drawing, ceramics, lino-print, collage, photography, textiles to wood and metal craft.
After the cancellation of last year's exhibition, students were eager to showcase their art to the community at the M16 Artspace, a new location for Step into the Limelight.
"We're very glad to be back in the gallery after last year," Renee Newton, production manager of Step into the Limelight, said.
"It has been wonderful to see a lot of collaborative work coming through this year, as well as individual works."
Students are using this platform to share a message as well.
Year 11 Canberra College student Dana Hoffmann used her piece Brain Rot to fight the rhetoric that pursuing a career in the arts is a "waste of time".
"I was heavily inspired by something a lot of young artists are told, that doing the arts and having a passion in it and doing it as a career is all brain rot, " Hoffmann said.
"I decided to take that idea and turn it into something positive. For me, the mushrooms represent the creativity that comes out of my brain and turns into things like this, instead of a negative waste of time," she said.
Hoffman's symbolic artwork will be on display for the next two weeks until the exhibitions close on August 8.
Step into the Limelight is in its 15th year and has become a fixture in the ACT public education program and is the largest youth arts event in the ACT.
For many students, this is the start of their career in the arts and a chance to be recognised for their talents.
"It's amazing to have my art out there, and this is the start of my career. Which is exciting, and this is an amazing space to have my art in," Hoffmann said.
The production has been recognised by ACT Children's Week and the Canberra Area Theatre Awards for the integral role it plays in linking schools with professional arts organisations and providing vocational pathways in the arts for ACT students.
Photo-media students have the most to gain from this exhibition, those who have entered quality pieces of photography go into the running to win the Isabel Matthews Scholarship.
An award which is given in memory of Isabel, a dedicated arts and photography student and a highly talented emerging artist who died in tragic and unexpected circumstances in May 2018.
The scholarship is awarded to a photo-media artist who shows exceptional creativity, originality and commitment to creating and showcasing digital photo media artworks.
One student from both the secondary and college sectors can be awarded this scholarship.
However, for most students, the chance to display their art in this exhibition is rewarding enough.
Sidita Douglas from Hawker College hoped to participate in exhibitions again.
It was her hopes for the future which inspired her work this time around.
"I hope that my future will be just as colourful as this chalk pastel work here," Douglas said.
Douglas worked on her piece Wishful Colour for weeks under the guidance of her teachers at Hawker College.
Ms Newton accredited the exhibition's success to the school community.
"We can't do this event without the great work that happens in schools with our visual arts experts," Ms Newton said.
The art exhibition is just one part of the showcase, with a gala showcase to be held in September.
The free exhibition is open to the public at the M16 Artspace in Griffith from the July 23 until the August 8, 2021.
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