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Arts reflect meaning of earth

Superior High School senior Alek Wallin, left, cuts out a stencil for senior Jake Hayes during art class on Wednesday morning after Hayes broke his hand. Both Wallin and Hayes will have art in the upcoming Gallery Hop. (Jed Carlson/

Superior students have something to say, and they’ll do it in a very public way during an annual gallery hop in honor of Earth Day.

The event runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 26. Their nature- and Earth Day-themed work will be housed in one of the Phantom Galleries in the New York Building.

“When asked what they are concerned about, the students answered with their hearts,” said Erika Mock, co-founder of Phantom Galleries Superior, which sets up temporary art displays in vacant storefronts. “Superior High School art students painted, drew, sculpted and wrote moving messages about how much they care about their planet, Earth.”

About 35 students will enter a wide range of art work in the show. Tim Crimmins, a senior, worked on his piece last week. The painting depicts a tree-filled skull with a burning city reflected in its eye sockets.

“We borrow the earth from our children,” Crimmins said, so it’s up to us to take care of it.

Senior ceramics student Michelle Hammack plans to display her Zuni-style vase and a taller cylinder painted orange and black. Other student works to be displayed include a teapot and cup with carved vines entwined around them, created by Chelsea Foerst and a grinning stencil piece by Jake Hayes, who got some help on the artwork from his classmates Alek Wallin and Chandler Meyer after breaking his hand.

Guiding the students through the process is local artist Jeredt Runions, known for his colorful, environmental-themed paintings, concert art and murals.

“It’s been cool to talk to somebody who has art out in the community,” Hammack said.

“It’s nice knowing what he’s been through,” said her classmate Deanna Johnson.

Runions has been sharing the concepts of pricing, display and promotion with the students for the past month as they prepare to show their art to the public. He’s proven a good mentor for the students, said ceramics teacher Nikkee Francisco.

“It’s great to get them more involved in the community working with artists like Jeredt,” she said. “He’s been a breath of fresh air for them.”

This is the second year Runions has coached student artists for a Phantom Galleries display.

“It’s awesome to show kids a new outlet,” Runions said. “The youth is the future. If we can get youth on board and start working out in the community at such a young age, that’s just going to trickle up.”

Francisco encouraged everyone to drop by the gallery April 26 to “hear” what these artists have to say about a sometimes political issue.

“It’s nice to see where kids stand, what their thoughts are, what they’re creating,” the ceramics teacher said.

“In order for any community to be whole it needs to value and see and hear from all its citizens,” Mock said. “The galleries offer the students a place to bring their art out of the classroom into the world; to celebrate, to cross-pollinate and receive feedback and support from the community, each other and the artists — to create change and be changed.”

As a prelude to the Earth Day gallery hop, Goin’ Postal, 816 Tower Ave., will be hosting a Spring Art Show 6-10 p.m. April 25. Works by Runions, Dusty Keliin, AJ Atwater, Ed Newman and other local artists will be featured.

In addition to the Phantom Gallery, the North End Arts Gallery and Duluth Pottery will take part in the gallery hop. A number of Duluth galleries will also open their doors during the event. Although the student display will only be open to the public that day, it will remain up, and viewable from the sidewalk, through late May.

“Prepare to be surprised and inspired by all the artists,” Mock said. “And by all means come.”