BRADENTON -- As a foreign exchange student, Pietro Lazzarus said he turned to art to feel connected to home.
He created the mixed media piece, Memories, based on a photograph of a favorite building in his hometown of Bologna, Italy.
"I tried to represent this memory," he said apologizing for his English.
Pietro, a junior at the Manatee School for the Arts, shyly stood next to his work of art until coming to life as people asked about his inspiration.
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Twenty original works of art created by students were auctioned Saturday evening at the ninth annual Art and Soul Gala and Live Art Auction. Proceed totals were not immediately available.
The gala, presented by the Manatee Education Foundation, was held at the Manatee County Center for the Performing Arts.
Money raised at the Heart and Soul Gala supports arts programs throughout Manatee County School District.
During the opening recep
tion, all 20 students stood by their artwork allowing potential bidders to view the piece and speak with the artist.
"There's some really good work here," Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie said.
Chappie said he was mesmerized as he admired one work hanging on the wall.
"It just gets better and better," Chappie said. "It really is amazing the talent these kids have."
Gina Backhoff, a Manatee High School senior, stood confidently as she talked about her sculpture to many interested people at the gala.
Her ceramic sculpture, Chrysalis, took four months to complete. She was inspired by nature, she said.
"I love organic shapes and the word chrysalis is actually another word for cocoon," Gina said.
Executive Director of Realize Bradenton Johnette Isham said she marveled at the work.
"Out of their own hearts, they are doing their work," Isham said. "Anything that puts a spotlight on creativity and young artists helps make Bradenton cool."
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her Twitter JDeLeon1012.