S.T.A.R.’s Second Annual Social Justice Student Art Showcase Coming Oct. 28 [Q&A]


2022 "Through Your Looking Glass" piece: "All of Us Or None of Us" by Alexa Burroughs, 6th grade, Saxe Middle School. Acrylic

New Canaan-founded nonprofit organization Stand Together Against Racism or “S.T.A.R.” is preparing to launch its second annual Social Justice Student Art Showcase, “Through Your Looking Glass.” 

Presented in partnership with The Glass House and Carriage Barn Arts Center, the showcase “seeks to recognize the role of art, design and/or architecture in advancing social justice through the lens of inclusion, equity and diversity,” according to the organization. Students in all grades from all towns in Fairfield County are invited to create and submit art that reflects the social justice topics that matter most to them today. 

All art will be featured at a free, public opening reception at the Carriage Barn from 12 to 2 p.m. Oct. 28 and will remain in view through Nov. 11.

We reached out to S.T.A.R. Vice Chair Susan Borst ahead of the showcase.

Here’s our exchange.

New Canaanite: Tell us about how the Social Justice Student Art Showcase started?

Susan Borst: Thanks to a grant and partnership with The Glass House, a National Trust for Historic Preservation site in New Canaan, our 2022 inaugural edition of “Through Your Looking Glass” Social Justice Student Art Showcase was born.The grant purpose is to engage local area youth in a way that would show the intersection of art, design and architecture with social justice. S.T.A.R’s Chair and Founder, Fatou Niang, said it best, “Art spaces create safe places to explore ideas and difficult, complex themes. Art also brings dignity to expression and allows discourse with an audience.”  

How was the first annual “Through Your Looking Glass” exhibition received?

Reception to the first showcase that featured art from twenty three students from multiple towns in Fairfield County and four established New York City artists was fantastic. Over 100 people visited the opening reception on a brilliant fall day at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society. The Glass House was so pleased that the partnership was extended to make this an annual event. Christa Carr, Communications Director at The Glass House, said, “As we saw last year, the range of social justice topics that matter to students is vast and eye-opening, and the creativity and excitement we saw was enlightening. I’d encourage everyone to visit the S.T.A.R website to see last year’s art and the student’s stories about the art.”

What is your message for Fairfield County students who may be interested in submitting a piece for inclusion in this year’s exhibition?

Our message to students is: This is an opportunity to use art in any medium to express your feelings about any social justice topic that is important to you.  Your art, and the social justice story behind your art,  is uniquely you and your voice is important.  And unlike other art showcases, this is not a competition.  All art will be featured at an opening reception that family, friends and the general public are welcome to attend.  

What are STAR’s plans for the launch of the second annual exhibition?

In addition to The Glass House, we are now also partnering with the Carriage Barn Arts Center. We opened up the age range to include all grades of Fairfield County students, including college, and the exhibition location will be at the Carriage Barn in New Canaan.  We will also feature a number of noteworthy local artists who will showcase their work alongside the student art. Featured local artists to-date include Tara Blackwell. Brian Kaspr, Julio Pardo and Butch Quick. The free-to-attend opening reception will take place on October 28 from 12pm-2pm and runs through November 11, culminating with a special interactive art experience with our local artists.  More details about the November 11th event to follow!

What else, if anything, would you like to tell our readers about the showcase? 

To parents, please encourage your child/ren’s participation. Art is due by October 23. More information, key dates and required registration links can be found on the S.T.A.R website. To our friends and neighbors across Fairfield County, mark October 28 on your calendar and join us for the opening reception. You will be blown away by the art and the range of social justice topics that are important to Fairfield County students of all ages today.

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