Students from the Academy of Fine Arts exhibit their work at the Victoria Consortium | Chaska Education

It all started with a turquoise-colored character with puppy eyes called Benny.

It was the first artwork that Ivy Gehman did for a passion project, which later turned into a gallery piece.

The work, created in the style of a trading card, is one of dozens of works by students from the Integrated Arts Academy currently on display in Victoria. The school has partnered with the Carver County Arts Consortium, exhibiting pieces chosen by IAA staff.

“It’s more than the show itself,” said IAA director Tera Kaltsas. “Our goal for our students and artists is to get as many experiences – real artist experiences, authentic learning experiences – as we can.”

The artists and their friends, family and neighbors gathered at a reception on January 9.

Consortium President Cynthia Anderson said the annual District 112 Youth Art Show did not feature any IAA students. This year has been an opportunity to change that.

“We wanted to make sure all the kids were represented for Carver County,” Anderson said.

11th grader Sam Nuteson transferred from Shakopee High School to IAA and said it suited him much better.

“I just like expressing things,” he said. “If I think of something I like, I paint it.”

Nuteson prefers to paint in acrylics, but is not limited to it. He headed for a set of pieces created with fellow artist and friend Josie Nickerson.

“I drew Josie,” Nuteson said.

“And I drew Sam,” Nickerson repeated.

Nuteson has 10 pieces on display at the Consortium, located on Victoria Drive, but has a few favorites like his depictions of elephants and dogs.

He works quickly, finishing parts anywhere in the 20-minute to three-hour window. One day, Nuteson thinks he wants to be a children’s book illustrator.

Classmate Gehman, a year above Nuteson, walked around the lower-level studio space during the reception and pointed out his personal favorites.

“(It’s) kind of edgy,” said Gehman, who has never exhibited work in a gallery.

“Specifically, I was really nervous about this piece, because I wanted everything to be perfect there. I mean, there are eight separate cards on it,” nodding at the series of drawings collectible cards.

Some of Gehman’s works included those from the IAA’s Graphic Design course. Each student in this class also works within the consortium.

Gehman has been drawing since second grade but dove deeper into art in middle school. In the coming years, Gehman hopes to study animation at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

“I make art because I have a lot of characters and stories in my head. Art is the best way I know to really get them out there because I’d like other people to see my stories and my characters,” Gehman said.

Mildred D. Field