It's the culmination of just one semester of work. Picasso-style self-portraits. Acrylic landscapes painted on the grounds of Saint Leo University. Watercolors of colorful croton plants painted before and after the recent frost, along with a few comic strips featuring a middle schooler's sense of humor.
Typically these pieces would end up on display on a hallway bulletin board or hung with paintings by the hundreds at the Pasco County Fair Student Art Exhibit.
But for a couple of weeks, the work of Centennial Middle School art students will be on display at the Uptown Artist Gallery in downtown Dade City.
It's a dream come true for art teacher Lesli Platt, who had long been searching for an outside venue to display her students' work.
"Parents just don't come to the school and actually look at the bulletin boards," she said.
So when Platt heard that a new gallery was opening featuring local artists, she gave the owners a call.
They were quite receptive.
"This is part of our mission statement," said curator Karin Best, who operates the gallery along with artists Mary Sears and Suzanne Desneux. "We want to work with the schools. This is the first step."
Space was limited, so the exhibit features just 40 pieces, from abstract to landscape, watercolors to acrylic along with an ongoing slide show set to music featuring work submitted by Platt's first-semester art students.
Platt is hoping that members of the community will stop in to see the talent that, all too often, hangs hidden away from the public. And given the economic climate and ongoing cuts in education, Platt said, these kind of middle school exhibits could end up disappearing completely.
"People should know that we're hanging on by a thread here," she said.
And while there's hope for some public enlightenment, Platt expects that the gallery experience will foster inner growth and a sense of pride for her students.
"I want them to view themselves more as artists, and I think this will help with that," she said. "I want them to feel pride and validation because they are artists."