A Place to Be Their Creative Selves
When Danielle Bargh couldn’t find a creative club supporting local teen artists, she reached out to Guilford Art Center (GAC), which welcomed Danielle to found the club she envisioned.
The Guilford High School (GHS) junior, lifelong art lover, and self-taught digital artist now leads GAC’s Teen Art Club.
“I took it on as my capstone project, but this is something that I’ve wanted to do since at least September of last year,” says Danielle. “I’m a theater kid; I’ve also done art since I was very young. At Guilford High School, there’s a lot of shout-outs for kids in the music theater program, but I felt like there was a lack of a shout-out, of presentation, for kids who love art. So I wanted to create a space where those people could share their work, and promote their creativity, and therefore enrich the community.”
Now, Danielle’s excited to debut the club’s first exhibition, “The Third Place,” at the gallery at GAC. The exhibit highlighting the work of local teen artists opens Friday, May 26, and runs through June 11.
The term “third place,” coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in the 1980s, essentially refers to a physical location other than work or home, Danielle explains.
“His theory is that be able to flourish, you need to have a third place, other than work or home, where there’s no judgment, there’s no monetary value. It’s just a place to exist, promote yourself, and be a person,” says Danielle.
She says the exhibit will be a forum that sponsors and spotlights youthful creativity and talent without critique or judgment.
As curator of The Third Place exhibit at GAC, “...my concept of ‘what is art?’ was something that I really struggled with,” says Danielle. “That general question then became, ‘...what is art, and what needs to be promoted, and what do people deserve to see?’ And that is a really loaded question! At the end of it all, I decided that art is anything, everything.”
As a result, the exhibit will accommodate art in many mediums and interactive forms.
“We’ll have art of all types, and we’ll have a speaker for music that’s been created or covered, and we’ll have a projector for digital art, and photography, and special effects,” says Danielle.
At GAC, Danielle has been mentored by GAC program assistant Ashley Seneco, whom Danielle credits for suggesting the “third place” concept for the exhibit. The two also have a common connection as artists who grew up in Guilford.
“Having grown up in Guilford, physical ‘third places’ were always something I felt were lacking for high-school-aged people,” says Ashely. “I imagine that void has only been amplified in recent years with in-person spaces and activities being limited. It’s inspiring to see someone actively working to make that space for themselves and their peers, and Guilford Art Center is thrilled to be a part of it.”
“Working with Ashely and the Guilford Art Center has been amazing,” says Danielle. “All of the group’s support has been through the art center.”
Thanks to GAC’s support, there is no fee to join the club.
At GHS, Danielle’s news about forming the club spread quickly among her peers and the student community, generating interest from about 44 teens. The club welcomes members from not only Guilford but beyond. GAC’s Teen Art Club currently includes young artists between the ages of 14 to 18, meeting weekly at GAC.
“My whole goal is to promote students, to promote the youth and their creativity and their creative endeavors,” says Danielle.
In the spirit of crediting and promoting local artists, Danielle notes that her submitted headshot photo for GAC’s exhibit publicity was taken by Mairin Yantorno, a sophomore at GHS.
Danielle welcomes the community to come out and see all of the artistic offerings created by local teens that will be on display during The Third Place exhibit. The exhibit’s public opening event is Friday, May 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. at GAC.
“Anyone is welcome from any school, any town, any age, to see the work. They’re welcome to come to the opening or to just come to see it anytime through June 11,” says Danielle.
Danielle plans to continue participating with the GAC Teen Art Club through her senior year of high school next year and possibly beyond.
“I would love to continue this until I graduate and, hopefully, after that,” she says. “It’s a great program, it’s a great opportunity, and I’m really happy that I got to found it and bring it to so many people to try so many new things.”
Guilford Art Center is located at 411 Church Street, where its gallery is free and open to the community seven days a week. For more information, contact Guilford Art Center at guilfordartcenter.org or 203-453-5947.