The INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition is back in the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC).  With this annual exhibition, SOPAC showcases the best and brightest visual artists from Essex County high schools.

All are invited to the exhibition’s opening reception on Thursday, May 18 from 5:00PM to 8:00PM in the Herb + Milly Iris Gallery on SOPAC’s second and third floors, to celebrate with the participating student artists, their teachers, and their families.  The exhibition will run from May 18 through August 20.  Admission is free and open to the public.

Students from every high school in Essex County are invited to submit pieces to the INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition, and since 2015, it has nurtured and enriched the next generation of local artists.  This year, the exhibition includes works by students from sixteen local high schools, including Arts High School, Bloomfield High School, Cicely Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts, Columbia High School, East Orange Campus High School, Irvington High School, Lacordaire Academy, Livingston High School, Maor High School, Millburn High School, Newark Academy, Nutley High School, Orange High School, Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, West Essex Regional High School, and West Orange High School.

After the students submit their work, a jury comprised of distinguished artists, photographers, museum curators, and arts advocates select pieces to include in the exhibition.  The result is an exciting and eclectic body of work from the community’s emerging artists.  “I love this show for its abundance of talent and the promise of what is to come.  The range, diversity, and skill are marvels to behold,” Jeremy Moss, Gallery Curator, says.

This year, students submitted over 1,000 pieces, and the jury selected 73 to include in the exhibition.  Through this selection process, SOPAC hopes to represent the diverse artistic voices of high school art students in Essex County.

“This opening reception is always my favorite night of the year,” explains SOPAC’s Director of Community Engagement Linda Beard.  “You can feel the joy and excitement from the students seeing their art in a professional gallery for the first time.”

The INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition perfectly unites the Gallery’s namesake, Milly Iris’s, passion for providing opportunities for emerging artists with SOPAC’s dedication to arts education in its local community.  “SOPAC recognizes arts education as invaluable and is proud to support and nourish young artists and validate their achievements,” Beard continues.

Join us at SOPAC in supporting young artists in Essex County and visit the INSPIRED MINDS: Young Artist Exhibition this spring!

If visitors are interested in making a purchase, they can contact Linda Beard at (973)-382-1035 or

SOPAC extends special thanks to the Iris Family Foundation for sponsoring the exhibition and The South Orange Frame Shop for framing the pieces. 


Preview works below