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AP Art display outside College Counseling

Ellie McCollum’s painting (pictured) is one of the many art pieces displayed in the college counseling space. Credit: Cate Reames

With the new school year came a fresh display from our very own AP Art and Portfolio students located outside of the College Counseling Office, between McCain Chapel and the stairs up to Askew. Created with various mediums, each piece offers a stunning display of technical adeptness and creativity born from unique inspirations. From photography to sculpture and paint to pastels, the installation encapsulates the range of talent our Westminster students have to offer, including their abilities to share powerful, symbolic meaning through their works. Furthermore, for many of the artists, themes with personal significance kept surfacing in their artwork.

“I wanted to talk about my experience of being a black girl at a predominantly white institution like Westminster,” said senior Camryn Ownes. “The piece that’s hanging by the College Counseling Office is mostly about my two sides: when I’m at school and when I’m at home, and the two different roles I have to play while being black.”

Similarly, senior Ellie McCollum has also discovered an unintentional motif spanning across her works. 

“I feel like if you see a painting of a mountain, it’s probably mine,” said McCollum.

Growing up, McCollum spent a lot of time visiting the mountains and now classifies those trips as formative experiences to her outlook on the natural world. As a result of this, she finds herself with an undeniable relationship with the outdoors, one she hopes to convey and express to others through her artwork.

“I was really focusing on the relationship between humans and nature,” said McCollum. “I wanted to represent that in art and show how they’re more connected than they seem.”

Owens, too, strove to represent the relationships and connections between humans and nature, though her works focus on the two sides within the human mind. Her piece features a face, and though it is split into oppositely oriented profiles, it tops a singular body: each set of eyes looking into a mirror of itself. Here, she chooses to play with color by having a blue head, with a red face, and vice versa. The contrasting language and imagery that adorn each edge with text such as  “Hood” and “Golden Gooses” offer insight into the workings of Owens’ mind and the experiences shaping the duality behind her identity.

“I kind of wanted to show that this [division] is something you might not know is going on in someone’s head,” said Owens.  “That’s something I really wanted to portray…especially at an institution like this where most of our students are white, you really wouldn’t know the different ideas or thoughts that are happening inside of my head.”

With communicative end goals as ambitious as these, many artists must allocate a substantial amount of time to execute their visions. While the AP Art curriculum typically allots for three pieces to be done in two weeks, students are sometimes presented with the opportunity for “ambitious projects”, which they get one month to work on a singular creation. Because of this extended time frame, artists had extra space to experiment.

To take advantage of the several extra days, McCollum intentionally tried to use a lot of different media.

“I have collages, charcoal, and acrylic in there,” said McCollum.  “I use something called modeling paints to create the texture on the mountains.”

The depth in her painting doesn’t go unnoticed.

“I really like how she got the shadows on the mountains,” said sophomore Rumana Shash “I thought it was good that she was innovative in how she did the bottom of the painting.”

Owens also tinkered with some technical aspects. 

“The piece that’s hanging… it’s actually me just mirrored twice and then mirrored again. Just [experimenting with] my editing style and photoshopping was really fun.”

A proponent of digital art, Owens has always been naturally drawn to photography, and, as a result, is strong in Photoshop. For her, this process only took about a week, but, unbeknownst to her, these days of hard work paid off tremendously. On the first day of school, Owens was in for a surprise as Steve Frappier, director of College Counseling, approached her to tell her that her piece was hanging outside of the College Counseling offices.

“I was really, really shocked. I immediately sent it to my family,” Owens said. “It was definitely like woah, I cannot believe my art is hanging in here because I never ever would’ve thought that when I came here seven years ago.”

And as for passing students, this exhibition has had a lot to offer as well. For many, including Shash, viewing this exhibit has offered a trip down memory lane.

“For the first one with the ski mountains, I really like that one because it reminds me of skiing and snowboarding every year when my family and I go to Utah,” said Shash. “The second one of the fairy reminded me of my middle school reading era when I would only read dystopia and fantasy kind of books,” said Shash.

Overall, the Westminster community has had nothing but rave reviews for these student artists and their showcase, especially concerning the diverse variety of artwork. 

“There was a photography kind of one, and then there was a physical sculpture, and the splatter paint was pretty cool for the motorcycle, and there were pastels,” said Shash. “I like how it all varies in the ways that [the artists] used different types of art to create each piece.”

Regardless of the style or technique used, each artist produced splendid pieces that spoke to students and teachers alike. Hanging outside the College Counseling Office, this showcase of all the talent and devotion poured into these projects creates an enjoyable experience for all.

Edited by Alexandra Yuan

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