Unique student art recognized by community

Maggie Li, Features Editor

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Junior Michelle Gershkovich assembles her piece “Shaking Hands with Nature.” It is currently located in the Northbrook Public Library. Photo by Isabel Vayser

Instead of limiting herself to paper, pencil or paints, junior Michelle Gershkovich created a piece of art out of unconventional materials such as insulation foam and chicken wire.

“I built the frame, … and then I carved insulation foam, and then I used chicken wire and I curved [it] to make it have dimension,” said Gershkovich. “Then I took [real] moss and bark and pieces of nature and put it on [the frame].”

The piece, “Shaking Hands with Nature,” is currently displayed in the Northbrook Public Library, however, it is not Gershkovich’s only piece on public display. She has also sold her artwork to Levun, Goodman and Cohen LLP, a law firm, and her work is set to be featured in an art exhibit run by the KRUG Art Gallery in Wheeling.

Julie Boyer, law office administrator at the law firm, said she met Gershkovich at physical therapy. Boyer asked Gershkovich about her interests, which led to Gershkovich showing photos of her artwork to Boyer.

“When I saw it, I knew the piece of art that she showed would fit well in our office,” said Boyer. “It’s an abstract piece that features the Chicago skyline, and … our reception area needed some color.”

Since then, Gershkovich said she has been trying to display more of her pieces throughout the community.

“I’ve been reaching out to different businesses, to different companies, to see if they’re into [my art],” Gershkovich said.

Natalie Koltun, art director of the KRUG Art Gallery, said Gershkovich approached her and demonstrated high levels of skill, artistry and maturity.

“Our organization … works with community artists, and we give them a free platform to show their art,” said Koltun. “Michelle was one of the first ones who really represented the community of young artists [well]. She has a very creative way of bringing her artistic vision to life.”

According to Koltun, Gershkovich’s art was selected to be displayed in an exhibit called “Artiste,” which is dedicated to International Women’s Day. The opening reception is scheduled to be on March 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Our narrative for [the exhibit] is that inspiration has no age, and creativity has no borders,” said Koltun. “We really work with artists from different backgrounds. We will show one of her abstract paintings on silk. … The reason we chose her for the exhibit is that she really demonstrates a vision. She’s not just making paintings for the hell of it. Each of her paintings has a story or an idea behind it.”

Gershkovich said she aims to make others happy with her art. Her favorite piece she has ever done was painting a cast into a recreation of the famous painting “Starry Night” by post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, with the addition of a Chicago skyline.

She said she also sells her art printed on clothing through a website called CrowdStitch.

“CrowdStitch is a Chicagoland business that supports artists by bringing their vision to masses,” said Gershkovich. “You are able to put your artwork on different garments and design and position the work as you see fit. … It’s amazing quality [that’s] customized to you, and you will be quite literally be wearing art.”

Although she has only sold three clothing pieces so far, Gershkovich said she is hoping “more designs and artwork will take off in the future.”

Gershkovich said she wants to help more students’ art reach recognition in Northbrook.

“I’m working closely with the Northbrook Arts Commission to involve more of our talented Glenbrook North artists in local art events, galleries and exhibits.

“I’m [looking forward] to opening up new events for the youth this year,” she said.

When she sees her art in public places, Gershkovich said it “definitely feels surreal.”

“I’m so excited to be able to share my artwork, my vision with the community,” Gershkovich said.

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Unique student art recognized by community