| Ryan Feyre
AGAWAM – Kim Beaver, an Agawam High School senior, will have one of her paintings featured in an upcoming statewide exhibit sometime in March.
Titled “The Final Kick,” the painting connects two aspects of Beaver’s life that she is most passionate about, running and art.
“Running is a very emotional, raw sport, and I feel as though it never gets enough recognition,” said Beaver, who also runs cross country and track at the high school. “Each time I race, I feel the pain in my muscles, the freedom of moving so quickly, and the euphoria of being pushed towards the breaking point.”
According to Beaver, who has been drawing her entire life, “The Final Kick” was the first time she painted using an abstract style. “’The Final Kick’ revealed a new side to my artwork, and I am excited to explore these new techniques in the future,” she said.
Amber Waters, who is Beaver’s art teacher at the high school, told Reminder Publishing that this was the first time she has ever submitted student artwork to this particular exhibit, which is known as the Massachusetts Art Education Association Juried Art Exhibition for Amazing Emerging Artists.
In a normal year, the high school would host two exhibits for students to display their work, but with the presence of different guidelines due to COVID-19, Waters had to find a different exhibit outside of school that would be willing to consider student art.
“So many of our students are full remote, that we don’t even get to see their artwork in person,” said Waters. “They’re submitting it electronically.”
Waters came across this exhibit through her position as a member of the National Art Education Association and the Massachusetts Art Education Association. She submitted Beaver’s painting and another student’s artwork from the school.
“It’s nice that Western Mass. is getting some recognition, because things tend to happen a lot with the Eastern Mass. schools,” said Waters, who offered high praise with regard to Beaver’s talents as an artist. “I’ve had her since she was a freshman, and I really pushed her to take the honors class, and she just blew me away this year.”
Students within Waters’ senior classes are asked to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. Watching Beaver’s piece get selected for the exhibit was a full circle moment, according to Waters. “She’ll just keep pushing herself,” said Waters. “She wants to learn, she wants to grow … she’s just a great kid.”
Beaver said that, as a shy student, art is an important way for her to express what words cannot say. “Sometimes, one single piece of artwork can say more than a five-paragraph essay,” she said. “And I believe that is a very special thing.”
Since freshman year of high school, Beaver has found a growing interest in art because it allows her to transcend anything she is capable of. Beaver said that the challenges she faces within art have granted her an opportunity to experiment with different styles and techniques, something that is represented through “The Final Kick.”
According to Waters, Beaver is looking into a future in the sciences, but also believes that her creative prowess will always be represented in everything she does. As a teacher, Waters always pushes Beaver and other seniors to find their creative voice within her class, especially since many of them have already learned specific nuances within art over the course of their first three years in high school.
“That’s what this assignment was about. This was about expressive line, and just more gestural style work,” said Waters. “And she just nailed it.”
The virtual exhibit will be available to the public on the Massachusetts Art Education Association website, according to Waters. Beaver’s piece will be displayed in the 2021 Recognitions Exhibit.
“It is an honor to have my piece exhibited,” said Beaver. “I put who I am as a person onto that canvas, and for it be exhibited is very fulfilling. I am excited to share it with so many people.”