Students explore, learn and create with Demuth Museum’s ‘Art in a Box’ [column] | Life & Culture

The purpose of the Demuth Museum is to celebrate and explore the life and works of Charles Demuth, Lancaster’s best-known artist.

The museum has a large Demuth collection and often exhibits parts of it. Exhibitions on a specific period of his life, the works of a friend or artists inspired by them adorn the walls of the museum.

And then there’s Art in a Box, an annual exhibit showcasing the work of students from across the county. This exhibition is in its 18th edition.

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K-12 teachers who apply to participate receive free art supplies and lesson plans to help students learn about Demuth, his life and works.

Then the students take the supplies out of the box and create works of art in various forms – portraits, architecture, still life, sculpture – using Demuth’s style.

The teachers then choose the works that will go to the museum for the Art in a Box exhibition.

The first thing that struck me when I entered the museum was how lovely the work was.

Using watercolors, pencils, markers and colored paper, the students did a great job capturing the essence of Demuth.

This was perhaps most evident in pieces of architecture.

Chi Luv used watercolor to create thick bands of blue against the backdrop of a water tower – one of Demuth’s favorite landmarks – with a suggestion of a gated house.

A line drawing of a large house, which may or may not be the Lancaster Museum of Art, is superimposed over shapes and shading of color, intriguingly framing the house. It’s by Connor Crater.

Graycen McDonald drew a row of houses with white Xs and green and purple triangles.

Perhaps the most elaborate piece of architecture is a cityscape with brightly colored triangles in the sky. The play is by Ava Richardson.

Like Demuth’s work, these portraits of buildings play with geometry and color.


Colorful curly portraits swirl across the paper in several works.

Ava Arroyo combines droopy heads with pops of color to create a scribbled nose or hair in purple, green, and yellow.

In a similar style, but with a different vibe, Aiden Dickinson drew a portrait of a man with blue, green and orange faces, cut into squares.

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The work frees itself from conventions but captures the subject.

The sculptures here use colored paper and the subject is mainly food. The sculptures of a taco and a soda are by Izzy Idoeta. Another features a lovely piece of watermelon by Monica Drear.

And then there are pumpkins. There are many pumpkins in this exhibit, and the colors, shapes, and scenes are lovely.

The shape of the pumpkins is pretty standard, but the colors look great: deep orange, rainbow, purple and blue, dark green, light yellow.

We see rows of pumpkins, some realistic, some glowing or dissolving, glowing or fading. What a wonderful subject is the pumpkin.

It is clear that these students discovered the works of Charles Demuth from the inside, by looking at his famous works, listening to and watching their teachers, and then having the chance to explore their own world.

It’s a delight.

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