Nature generally doesn't need any help to look good, but the fanciful works on display at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor Art Gallery give them new creative interpretations. They're the work of the staff and teens from Community Stepping Stones, a learning center for at-risk youth that uses art as a vehicle for job training. For its latest project, the nonprofit agency partnered with University of South Florida staffers and students, led by microbiologist Bridgette Froeschke. They had science classes and field trips to study the Hillsborough River and its connections with surrounding bays and the gulf. They took samples and did lab studies. The art part entered when the teens were given lab drawings as inspiration for art. The result is "Beautiful Beasties," including the sculpture shown here by a group of teens that include Sarah McCartney, Elisah Edmund and Alanzo Jackson. All of the art is made from recycled materials. It's both inspiring and impressive. The HCC Ybor Art Gallery at Palm Avenue and 15th Street, Tampa, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Free. An opening reception is from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. today starting at 4:30 p.m. hccfl.edu/yc/art-gallery.aspx or (813) 253-7674.
Lennie Bennett, Times art critic