Student work exhibit shows off best of BBAC

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 25, 2015

 Nancy Teegarden Weigienek, of Birmingham, created this piece of jewelry, which will be on display in the student exhibition.

Nancy Teegarden Weigienek, of Birmingham, created this piece of jewelry, which will be on display in the student exhibition.

Photo provided


BIRMINGHAM — Annie VanGelderen, president and CEO of the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, has obviously seen plenty of art shows in her day. But each year, there’s a certain one she always looks forward to: the “Current Student Works” exhibit.

“It’s up now and it’s one of my favorite shows of the year,” said VanGelderen. “It showcases the amazing and accomplished work the BBAC has inspired in our students, and it showcases our instructors who teach classes, and what they do to inspire the talent our students are already equipped with but maybe haven’t discovered yet.”

The juried show this year is comprised of 172 pieces ranging in a variety of mediums and skill levels. Artworks were selected by Russell Thayer, a Franklin resident and retired art professor from the University of Michigan and Delta College, among his other credits.

Patty Eisenbraun, a retiree living in Bloomfield Township, was one of the students selected to participate in this year’s show. She’s been a student at the BBAC for 14 years.

“I tried it when my kids were little, but it just didn’t work. I had to hang up the brushes for a while,” said Eisenbraun. “I call it my dessert in life. I retired, my kids were grown, and it was my time to do what I wanted to do, sort of.”

Though Eisenbraun has been selected for the student exhibit before, it’s not a guarantee every year, which keeps the process honest and exciting for participants.

She said it’s also great practice with the jurying process for those students planning to pursue art as a career, although not all students at the BBAC are there to be pros.

That anticipation is what VanGelderen remembers most about her experience with the exhibit.

“I was once a student, and I remember the excitement of getting my piece in a show, so I encourage everyone to do that. To see your work on the wall with other like artists, it’s a fulfilling experience and it encourages (students) to keep pursuing art, whether it’s for pleasure or to take it to the next level,” said VanGelderen. “It’s confirmation that what you’re doing is real — it’s not just for fun; it’s worthwhile.”

The “Current Student Works” exhibit lasts through March 27. For more information, call (248) 644-0866 or visit

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