Westminster Students Participate in High Museum Exhibition

Every spring, the High Museum hosts a Student Exhibition displaying the artwork of several Westminster students. From mid-February to the end of May, visitors can admire the masterpieces at the High Museum.
The art pieces are chosen by Westminster visual art teachers, who have the opportunity to submit around eight pieces. Usually, the selection process involves displaying all the art and having the students vote. However, this year, the submission deadlines were due right after JanTerm ended, so the art teachers chose the art by themselves. They took pictures of each piece from first semester, then looked through each class period to single out a few students who did particularly well.
“I think a wide range of success is what every teacher is looking for. The project doesn’t really matter, it’s more about the successes/skill that each student has put into their projects and about who we want to represent Westminster at the High,” said Pamela Martinez, an upper school art teacher. “Many of the curators, staff, and administrators from the museum see the show, so the art that we ultimately choose must showcase who Westminster is.”
All students currently participating in a visual arts course, from drawing and painting to graphic design, are eligible to be selected by their teacher to represent Westminster at the High Museum. However, recently, the museum recently changed the selection process drastically.
“One of the constraints that the museum has put on us recently is that three-dimensional work cannot be submitted anymore. They don’t have pedestals or cases that can be used to display the art anymore. Therefore, the only things that can be submitted are pieces that are two-dimensional and can sit on a wall,” said Martinez. “Another constraint is size: the art cannot be too large.”
Senior Kate Lindgren has displayed her art at the Student Exhibition for two consecutive years. She’s currently taking AP Studio Art: Drawing and Painting, with Mr. Steele.
“Last year I made a collage piece that was displayed at the High Museum. My focus of the piece was taking advertisements of sad children but make them appear happier through other artistic elements,” said Lindgren. “I used a little girl in a cancer ad, but I painted the background bright pink and I pasted bows all over it to juxtapose the two moods between the sad ad and the cheerful, obnoxious colors.”
One freshman has a series of celebrity caricatures presented in the exhibition, which were chosen by Mrs. Martinez from the Portfolio: Drawing and Painting III and IV course. A caricature is a fast drawing spanning five to ten minutes, created using a single marker line. This type of art is particularly challenging because there is no opportunity to edit, so the artist must capture the likeness of the celebrity with a few decisive lines.
“Noah spent a long time really creating the full aesthetic and being thoughtful about presentation, although this type of art is typically done quickly.” said Martinez. “In caricatures, you want to get the character’s likeness by distorting it. By using techniques such as paying attention to the opposite of what the celebrity looks like, you can achieve the caricatures and the likeness of the person much more than if you were just to draw them straight as you see them.”
Graphic design is also an important facet of Westminster’s art program. Sophomore Annie Sumardi utilizes Adobe Illustrator to create pieces representative of song lyrics in her project from Graphic Design I course with Mr. Reece.
“I borrowed lyrics from the song ‘Viva la Vida,’ and incorporated them subtly into my art. The song is about a disgraced king with an impermanent empire, so I based my project around a sand castle with a powerless king controlled by a puppeteer,” said Sumardi.
Lindgren, Noah, and Sumardi are only three of many artists whose work is being displayed at the High Museum. Aside from Westminster, there are one or two more schools that participate in this exhibition as well.
“Viewing art created by students from other schools broadens the Westminster students; understanding of who else is out there,” says Martinez. “They can be inspired by the art that other people are making with different themes and mediums.”
For Westminster students, the chance to have their artwork professionally featured at the High Museum is incredibly valuable. “This experience showed me what art can represent, especially outside of the studios at school,” said Sumardi. “It opened my eyes to the impact that graphic design could have on my life and work in the future.”
“The students gain exposure to what an art show would look like outside Westminster. We see the show in Broyles all the time, but at the High, it’s framed and hung by museum professionals,” said Martinez. “Creating art in the studio at Westminster is important, but there is also so much potential for art outside of the classroom. The Student Exhibition at the High Museum exemplifies some of Westminster’s best masterpieces, and provides students with another source of inspiration and perspective of the artistic world.”