Since mid-November, the doors of Perrel Gallery have joyfully swung open, welcoming students and teachers to view The Pond Series.
Curated by Upper School Art Teacher Betsy DiJulio, the exhibit includes the work of award-winning artist and nationally-recognized high school art teacher Jean Benvenuto, who recently retired after a lengthy career teaching in Hampton Roads schools. The series highlights how, in a lowly retention pond in Portsmouth, Benvenuto found the perfect metaphor for growth, renewal, and cycles of change.
An art teacher at Portsmouth's Churchland High School for 25 years, Benvenuto has also taught at the former Cradock High School and the city of Portsmouth's Center of Excellence in the Visual and Performing Arts. As a professional artist, she has exhibited work in Hampton Roads and beyond. She is a graduate of Old Dominion University.
Teachers have been bringing classes to the exhibit, both to study and discuss, and as a quiet area to open up minds. Beyond the visual art connections, topics that have been natural fits include botany, life cycles, and metaphor in works of literature, film, dance, theater, and music.
In addition, the show provides a contemplative space for individual writing, sketching, thinking, and meditating. Faculty and staff enjoyed a yoga session in the gallery just before the exhibit closed on January 13.
A few dozen Upper School students took time out of their H Bell on January 9 to visit the gallery and learn from Benvenuto. She talked with the students about her inspiration and work process around The Pond Series, as well as her approach to art in general. She also answered their questions.
The next Perrel Gallery exhibit will be titled Steve Prince: Kitchen Table Talk. It opens in late January and will run until late March.