This isn’t the official reason for the event, but a Berkeley High School exhibition Thursday evening will show that when public school students have the chance to pursue art, the results can be dazzling.

The fifth annual Berkeley International High School Art Exhibition will include work from 64 juniors and seniors: not only paintings and sculpture, but also everything from lithographs to performance art and stop motion animation.

Displayed alongside each student’s set of pieces will be artist statements that explain the themes they seek to illuminate through their art, and the research that went into trying to give the work cultural substance, as well as emotional depth.

“Art-making is a type of research, a process of unearthing new knowledge,” says their teacher, Kimberley D’Adamo. “The interdisciplinary nature of the class allows students to use art as a way to explore the other disciplines — math, science, history and so on.”

Not only are the young artists in the BIHS program, most are emphasizing art as part of their quest for an International Baccalaureate diploma. Fulfilling the art segment is no easy task: students must submit copies of more than a dozen pages from their research notebooks along with photographs showing close-up details from their work. These are submitted for review two weeks before the exhibition; the exhibition itself is followed by a weekend of individual interviews, where an outside jury quizzes each diploma-bound student for roughly 45 minutes, at the student’s exhibition space.

As befits a celebratory event, the exhibition will double as a reception graced with food and (non-alcoholic) drink. Students have the option of placing pieces of their work on sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to the BIHS art program.

The reception will also feature a sales table with artwork and crafts prepared by members of Berkeley High’s Kiva Club. All proceeds from the sale of these pieces are used to help with the micro-lending efforts that the club has funded since students came together in 2008.

BIHS Art Reception is from 6-8pm, Thursday March 22nd in the lobby of the Berkeley High Community Theater. Refreshments will be on offer and admission is free.

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