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BC brings teens' works to digital space with Panorama Invitational

The Panorama Invitational, which Bakersfield College has hosted for more than 15 years to highlight the work of young adults, was not another victim of the pandemic. This time around, it's an online exhibition with student works on display now through Jan. 29.

Ronnie Wrest, co-director of BC's Wylie and May Louise Jones Gallery, which normally features the exhibit, said it will include the works of 19 students from eight high schools: Bakersfield, Foothill, Highland, Independence, Liberty, North, South and Vista.

BC staff had experience displaying in the digital realm with the college students' art show that was virtual in May. Wrest said the high school instructors,  who helped curate the invitational, were great about the new digital shuffle.

"In a normal year we decide how the works are displayed in the physical space, but this year we are just glad to have an outlet for these students' work," Wrest wrote. "There are obviously educational barriers working from home, but I think the pool of work we ended up with shows the resiliency of these creative students."

All the pieces are two-dimensional in a variety of mediums including charcoal, graphite, colored pencil, pastel and acrylic paint.

"The day-to-day working conditions dictated what the show looked like more than anything," Wrest wrote in an email. "Sculpture is the only thing missing this year. It was much easier for students to draw and paint while working at home than work with ceramics or other more process-based media."

Wrest found it interesting that there weren't many pieces "too wrapped up (in) our current state of the world." Some students drew from class assignments with traditional portraits, still lifes and abstract exercises. 

"If anything, I see these young artists finding normalcy in their work," Wrest wrote. "Art can definitely be a way to express the world around us but can also be a place of solace. I know so many of my own students are seeking familiarity with pre-COVID life."

The Panorama Invitational is on display on the gallery's Tumblr page (jonesgallery.tumblr.com) as well as its other social media (@thejonesgallery on Instagram and Twitter and facebook.com/wmljonesgallery).

Wrest hopes viewers take the time to really enjoy the work, much as they would if seeing it in person.

"Being displayed on social media it's easy to just scroll through them like so much else on the internet these days," he wrote. "Stop and think about how motivated these students are to make such beautiful art works in such a challenging time.

After this digital exhibit ends on Jan. 29, the BC gallery will show two other digital exhibitions during the spring semester including a traveling Smithsonian exhibition on the activism and work of Dolores Huerta.

"Although things will not be 100% normal in 2021, we have a lot in store," Wrest wrote.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.