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Hellgate High School seniors give back with art

A curated art exhibit at Liquid Planet fills a National Honors Society requirement
Hellgate Student Art Exhibit
Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 12:21:59-04

MISSOULA — High school students don't often get a chance to put on an art show, but two Hellgate students used a class requirement to do just that while giving back to the community.

Annika Dillon and Luke O’Connell -- two Hellgate High seniors -- recently debuted a curated art exhibit at Liquid Planet in downtown Missoula.

The display features original art from multiple students at Hellgate High School.

“It was nice to meet with different artists and additionally have them meet with the venue owner. He’s done art displays for a long time, and it just felt like a good learning experience for everyone involved,” O'Connell said.

The project had a purpose -- it was a requirement for the Hellgate chapter of the National Honors Society.

“Our goal with this project was to help students along with the community,” O'Connell explained.

To take their project an extra step, the students decided to give back.

“After talking to all of our artists, we decided to donate 75% of all of the proceeds to All Nations Health Center," Dillon said.

The All Nations Health Center is a non-profit organization that provides healthcare services to the Missoula Native American community.

“We were really passionate about getting the artwork of our friends out into the community," Dillon said. "It’s kind of dual sided. We’re helping these artists become more known in the community, and it feels really great to give back to something that’s local, and that it’s a charity that needs our money right now, and that will use it in a great way,” she added.

Beyond helping their fellow students and community members, the project helped O'Connell and Dillon gain something too.

Dillon sees a future for herself in art.

“I'm really interested in the management of galleries, museums and just, like, the study of art in general. Myself, I'm not much of an artist, but I'm really interested in that organizational aspect," Dillon said.

O'Connell said he is using the experience less directly but that it still contributes to his future.

“It was really fun to know that like this is a good cause and we'll be donating to charity. And additionally that, you know, I can use the skills I've learned in a beneficial way in the future,” O'Connell said.

The art will be displayed at Liquid Planet through April 11. Until then, the students encourage folks to grab a coffee, enjoy the art, and potentially purchase a unique piece to take home.

The local youth artwork will also be featured at an open house at Liquid Planet this coming Friday, April 2.