Water running through a stream surrounded by green grass and tall trees reminds Amanda Perdersen of the small town near where she grew up in Bjaeverskov, Denmark.
The exchange student, currently living in Patchogue, decided it was the perfect scene to paint for the fifth annual Smithtown Township Arts Council Youth Art Showcase, which held its opening reception Saturday.
"When I look at this picture, it takes me back to Denmark,” said the 16-year-old artist. “It reminds me of home.”
Nearly 300 students from grades eight through 12 and hailing from 18 school districts exhibited their work in the showcase at the Mills Pond House Gallery in St. James.
"This is my first time having my art in a gallery,” said Alexandra Hermanowski, 16, of Kings Park. “This is cool."
Smithtown East High School art teacher Dianne Shanian was impressed with the wide range of talent displayed throughout the showcase.
"I like the fact that what is done in the classroom is extended to the community for the students, family and their friends to see,” she said. “It's wonderful.”
With close to 500 people at the reception, individuals were eager to peruse the diverse art pieces, which included photography, mixed media, ceramic, acrylic, chalk pastel, clay, watercolor and scratchboard.
Karen Mortimer, the art council’s program coordinator, was excited to see the variety pieces the student’s presented.
"I am amazed by the talent in this showcase,” she said as she described one of her favorite pieces, an ink drawing of a horse called “Pearl” by Sayville student Rachael Wachter. “No matter where you stand, up close or far away, it is so beautiful.”
Smithtown Township Arts Council Director Allison Cruz said the showcase was created as a way for students to express themselves. All teachers and students were welcomed to submit student work to the gallery.
"Kids need an outlet and art is a form of expression,” Cruz said. “I am a firm believer that art touches people. Art can make you laugh, cry, see yourself and I love it. Just think about what kids see in their lives -- storms, death, violence. They can show what they see through art."
The showcase will be on display at the Mills Pond House Gallery through March 15. For more information, visit www.stacarts.org.