They may be young, but the artists of the Lancaster County Young Artists exhibition show an unexpected maturity in their work.

More than 284 young artists in grades 7 through 12, from schools all over Lancaster County, in just about every medium from sculpture to painting to jewelry design, are showcasing their work in the Lancaster County Young Artists show at the Lancaster Museum of Art.

“I was just amazed to see how beautifully done the work is, and the high level of talent we have here in Lancaster County,” says Anne Lampe, executive director of the Demuth Museum. “It’s been a real eye-opener.”

Lampe explains that the exhibition is being held at the Lancaster Museum of Art because of space. With nearly 300 artists, there just isn’t enough room at Demuth.

Interestingly, the artists who grew up with computer technology, online graphics and website design, demonstrate that they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty — with clay, charcoal, paint and watercolors. Their work is very much hands-on.

A few of the “fantastic” things that impressed Lampe include Cocalico High School senior Karina Russell’s “Melting Stone” ceramic design and Lancaster Mennonite School-Kraybill Campus seventh grader Lauren Novosat’s “Glass Square With Modern Blues” piece.

Linnae Budusky, a junior at Lancaster Catholic, stunned judges with her fashion statement of a chic party dress made from white trash bags and white napkins for the rosette trim. Conestoga Valley 10th grader Becky Snyder created a pink flower sculpture, while Lancaster Catholic senior Heather Groody did a bold red and flame orange vessel.

Lampe is intrigued by the high level of talent in photography, including Lancaster Catholic High School 10th grader Adele Trefry’s image “Beautiful,” and “Deck the Fence” by Haley Klinger, a senior at Garden Spot High School.

“The jewelry is fantastic, with all the colorful designs that I would love to wear,” says Lampe. “I am just blown away.”

Lampe goes on to explain how she has witnessed the incredible depth and commitment of the teachers of Lancaster County to expose and encourage county youngsters towards artistic creativity.

“Through the process of taking over Lancaster County Young Artists and combining that with the Scholastic Art Awards, we are once again celebrating the achievements of our talented students and their dedicated teachers,” she notes.

Lampe is pleased that Lancaster County Young Artists and Scholastic Art Awards are joined together, after being apart for several years. That opens doors, not only for young artists who aspire to careers in the arts, but for those who find creative expression in art even if they go on to other careers.

The history of Scholastics is a long one here in Lancaster County, reports Lampe. No other county in the United States has its own region of competition in the Scholastic Art Awards. She considers it to be a testament to the school districts in Lancaster that have through the years consistently provided a level of artistic education unparalleled elsewhere in the country.

“Children from the earliest ages are given instruction in various types of media, from traditional oil on canvas and watercolor to the latest in digital media. They are exposed to a myriad of ideas about subject matter and given freedom to express themselves and define what art means to them,” says Lampe.

Lampe credits the commitment of the art teachers in Lancaster County, who provide many extra hours to help develop their students. Many art teacher are artists themselves, and view their role as being one of nurturing young artists.

“When teachers see a particularly talented child, they take the time and find the resources to help them grow their skills and interest,” says Lampe, noting that teachers such as Pauline Stauffer, Margaret and Gerald Lestz and Carol Anspach have carried the torch for fostering the arts among young people.

With the Lancaster County Young Artists exhibition, it’s a chance to check out the up-and-coming talent that may one day be the work of successful professional artists.

The opening reception for the Lancaster County Young Artists exhibit will be held 5-8 p.m. Friday at the Lancaster Museum of Art, 135 N. Lime St. The exhibit will continue through March 30.

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