BBAC highlights current students with annual exhibit

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 12, 2018

 This work, by Nancy Seavitt, earned the Orchard Lake artist a prize during the annual student exhibition at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

This work, by Nancy Seavitt, earned the Orchard Lake artist a prize during the annual student exhibition at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

Photo provided by Hope Brown, of PublicCity PR

BIRMINGHAM — Sure, there are plenty of students studying at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center who attend classes just for fun — to express themselves creatively or maybe even just to get a couple of hours a week away from their regular responsibilities.

But there are also quite a few dedicated artists with tremendous talent honed by the center’s world-class instructors.

The achievements of students from both catergories are now on display at the BBAC, with a few prizes in the mix. The Current Student Works Competition runs through March 1 and showcases 200 works from adult students across all mediums.

More than 300 submissions were entered into the annual competition by BBAC students enrolled in any of the hundreds of classes the center offers each year. Ceramist and sculptor Jim Adair juried the contest and selected 22 winners from all over metro Detroit.

“The annual Current Student Works is a wonderful glimpse of the incredible work that is being produced under the BBAC’s roof. The mediums run the gamut of what you can learn in our studios. We have artwork that represents the variety of the talent our students bring, from metalworks, painting, collage, bookmaking, ceramics, sculpture and fiber — and I am sure I am missing a few,” said BBAC President and CEO Annie VanGelderen. “Almost every discipline just happened to be represented in the ‘winner circle,’ which was surprising.”

VanGelderen added that she uses the term “student” loosely, since many of those who take classes at the BBAC are professional artists in their own right.

Nancy Seavitt, of Orchard Lake, is an accomplished ceramics artist who takes classes at the center. Her award-winning bowl can be seen as part of the student exhibition.

“I thought it had a really interesting shape,” Seavitt said of her creation, which began as a regular bowl that she cut in half and put back together at the rim. “I was very pleased with the award. It’s always nice to get that validation.”

Seavitt started taking classes at the BBAC about 14 years ago when she signed her daughter up for classes. She tried oil painting, watercolors and sculpting before settling on clay, which she considers a “meditative, intimate” experience.

“I always thought it was fascinating how pottery is what (anthropologists) find from ancient civilizations. Something just clicked. Clay just transcends so many cultures and eras,” she said, adding that she loves learning from her current BBAC instructor, Sue O’Connor.

The show serves two purposes, according to VanGelderen. It’s a chance for visitors to get out of the gray and the cold and see some beautiful, locally made artwork at no charge, and it’s also something of an example for what students can achieve at the nonprofit art center.

“I encourage everyone to visit and see what’s happening in the current art world, and maybe you’ll come across a neighbor or friend that you didn’t know was an artist,” she said. “And surely it’s an opportunity to purchase an original work of art.”

The BBAC Gallery is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit

The Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center is located at 1516 S. Cranbrook Road in Birmingham.