PORTAGE PARK — Mark Osamor never expected to have his artwork on public display.
But after being chosen by his visual arts teacher, the Taft High School freshman is joining 70 peers whose work is being shown at Perkolator coffee shop, 6032 W. Irving Park Road.
“I feel happy but also I feel surprised because I didn’t try on” the painting, Osamor said. “I was just doing it for myself.”
The annual student art show took a pause last year due to the pandemic but returned at the end of January. This year’s show highlights work by Taft students that touch on themes of social media, COVID-19, self-reflection and nature.
It’s a way to bring the students’ talent and accomplishments to the Far Northwest Side community, said Bridget Doherty Trebing, a visual arts teacher at Taft in Norwood Park who organizes the yearly show in partnership with Perkolator.
“It’s important for them to showcase their work,” Doherty Trebing said. “They showcase it with their peers at school, but it’s a whole different experience to have it in the community more broadly. It gives them a sense of pride [in] their work.”
The art show’s concept started when Doherty Trebing went into the cafe for a coffee five years ago. Other student work was on display, which put her into “art teacher mode” and got her thinking of ways to get Taft’s artwork into the community, she said.
The partnership is also a win for Perkolator and can encourage folks to support a local business that in turn can bring fresh eyes to the student artwork, Doherty Trebing said.
“The connection to be able to not just have a show in the community but also at this business where they are good people [and bring] families who have never been there … makes them part of the arts community but also the neighborhood community,” she said.
Osamor, who has been drawing since he was 3 years old, said he’s excited to have more eyes on his work. He plans to bring his family and friends to the cafe.
The Austin resident created a self-portrait painting with a vivid red and blue background and patterned colors, inspired by textile artist Bisa Butler.
Known to work primarily with vibrant, colorful fabrics, Butler’s portrait quilts vividly capture personal and historical narratives of Black life, according to the Art Institute of Chicago’s solo exhibition on her work last year.
The Taft student art show is on display until Feb. 26. People can visit Perkolator 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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