Roaring Fork High School student has solo exhibition at Wyly
If You Go...
Who: Amaranda Fregoso
What: ‘The Psychology of Emotions: Paintings by Amaranda Fregoso’
When: Opening reception 5-7 p.m. on Friday; exhibition up through June 13
Where: Wyly Art Center, 99 Midland Spur, Basalt
How Much: Free
It’s not every day that a high school student gets a solo exhibition at a respected art hub like Basalt’s Wyly Art Center, but Roaring Fork High School junior Amaranda Fregoso has exactly that opportunity thanks to a mentor program at the Wyly.
For the past six years, the Wyly Art Center has offered its Claudette Carter Art Mentor Program for young women, which allows high school juniors to work one-on-one for the entire school year with a professional female artist and which culminates in a solo exhibition at the end of the mentorship.
Fregoso’s show consists of painted portraits that represent different emotions. She said she is drawn to painting faces because of her interest in psychology.
“I really like people’s faces,” Fregoso said. “I think faces really capture a person’s personality.”
The young artist’s work consists of many layers. Some of the pieces have strips of newspaper creating a background with more depth, and others have words, phrases or poetry scrawled across them. Fregoso said this layering was inspired in part by her mentor, Carbondale artist Ingrid Magidson, who is known for this technique in her own portraits.
Fregoso applied for the mentor program because she wanted to experience what life is like for a professional studio artist.
“I wanted to know how a real artist works,” Fregoso said. “I understand now it’s a lot of work and a lot of expectations.”
The mentorship has the two artists meet once a week or so and work together in a studio setting. Fregoso was guided through the entire process of putting together a solo exhibition: conceptualizing a theme, creating sketches, making the artwork, photographing the artwork, writing an artist statement, installing the show, learning how to talk to media and preparing a speech for the opening reception.
“The experience they’re getting, a lot of young artists don’t get that opportunity,” Magidson said. “They get to see the real life experience of becoming a true artist. You can’t get that reading books or looking on the Internet. She sees the professional side of what I do. This program was designed to go through the whole process.”
Fregoso said the most important lesson she learned from the mentorship wasn’t about her technique as an artist, but about her confidence.
“The most important thing is to have more confidence when it comes to my art,” she said. “Ingrid has been really good to me. I feel I got better because she taught me how to be more confident, and she taught me that it doesn’t really matter what people think of your work as long as you like it.”
After Fregoso’s show, Basalt High School junior Savy Cheatham will have her exhibition as part of the same mentor program. Cheatham’s mentor, Nancy Lovendahl, is also the founder of the mentor program.
“My friend and mentor died very unexpectedly, and I wanted to remember her and give the best of myself the way I thought she gave the best of herself to me,” Lovendahl said of the inspiration behind the program. “And reflecting on my own experience, I feel I would have gotten way farther along in my decision making if I’d had a mentor at this young age.”
Lovendahl graduated from the University of Illinois with a ceramics degree “and clueless as to how to really devise a career,” she said. “It wasn’t like anyone was prohibiting me; I just didn’t even know what questions to ask.”
She hopes the mentor program helps young artists avoid those feelings of cluelessness and provides them with the information and experiences they need to decide if a career in art is even what they want to pursue. She also hopes the program expands to include young artists throughout the valley, as well as males.
“It took me a very long time to gather a window into being an artist,” she said. “I think I would have been more informed and known where to begin had I had a mentor at this age.”
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