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Spotlight on Upper School visual arts exhibition

Creative structure on display at the Upper School visual arts reception. Credit: Tommy Weng

On Nov. 8, 2023, the Upper School visual arts department held an exhibition in Broyles showcasing various mediums and styles of artwork from all classes and grade levels. Students, parents, and faculty gathered together to see the wonderful and diverse art made by the Westminster visual arts students. 

The Upper School visual arts display showcases work from a variety of different Upper School arts courses, allowing viewers to see a diverse array of levels and mediums, with classes ranging from introductory to AP and mediums ranging from graphic design to sculpture. This variety of classes allows students to branch out and discover which specific art medium allows them to express themselves the most. 

“One of the main focuses of our program is really helping students find their own voice through the mediums,” said visual arts department head Ben Steele. 

The exhibition also provides students with an opportunity to see how the public responds to their pieces and reassures them that others care about the work that they are making. However, the exhibition does not solely benefit art students; these exhibitions allow attendees to pause and reflect on the artwork that their peers created. 

One piece in the current exhibition, the Scroll Project, made by students in AP Studio Art: 2D Design Digital Imaging, particularly stands out to Steele. The class is currently working on developing its own theme and artistic idea for the year. For this piece, class members had to come up with three pieces that could succeed on their own while also being able to flow together as a triptych. 

“It’s just a really interesting way of seeing a physical manifestation of something that traditionally is just digital,” said Steele. “And with that idea present of one image bleeding into one another, it’s just really cool to see in person.”

Another art piece that incorporates bleeding is a sculpture by junior Ava Kelly. She used wax to form a hand holding a lemon and used red to symbolize the sourness of the lemon bleeding onto the pure white hand. Initially, she was inspired to add the lemon to her piece after spotting a candle shaped like a lemon slice in the visual arts objects room. Kelly also used the sourness blending into the hand to represent anger. 

“People, when they think of people being bitter, or sour, it usually might influence anger,” said Kelly. 

Another artist, freshman Reese Gyovai, used her artwork to symbolize how people can become addicted to power. Gyovai used oil pastels and an oil pastel glaze to create a drawing that focuses on a broken skull with a crown atop its head. Her initial inspiration for this came from an assignment in art class, but she quickly became inspired by another artist because of the relevance her theme has to the artist’s piece. 

“It was inspired by Odilon Redon, who is a painter who used oil pastels to create symbolic pieces of work,” said Gyovai. 

Two years ago, junior Mary Clare Miller was inspired to make her most recent piece at the exhibition. 

“I saw the original project from the juniors [two years ago], and there was one girl who made Drew Berrymore from Scream on the Route 66 sign,” said Miller. “The minute I saw that, I went, ‘Okay when I’m in Portfolio, I’m doing a movie and I’m going to make it look like that.’”

Miller’s painting is of a “no parking” sign incorporating a frame from the movie “10 Things I Hate about You,” featuring the protagonist, Kat Stratford. While Miller doubts that the painting will have significance to anybody besides herself, in the end she was extremely proud of it. 

Senior Camille Quarterman also found personal significance in her artwork, as she used her own face as the reference for the one she drew in her piece. 

“It’s kind of representative of how far I’ve come in terms of being comfortable, you know, with my body and how I look and not feeling the need to fit into a box,” said Quarterman. 

This takeaway also adds to the importance of the idea Quarterman is trying to express in her artwork. In her AP 2D Design class, she chose her focus for the year to be problems that are unique to the African American community. The piece currently installed in Broyles challenges beauty standards and how people in the African American community feel the need to conform to them. 

Another work that challenges the way people think is a set of photos by freshman Jonas Hausner. He used the reflection of light to symbolize how people can see life through different perspectives. His initial inspiration for this piece, however, was simply that he found something different to make. 

“I was just looking around campus, and it was something different that no one did,” said Hausner. 

Another artist, sophomore Taylor Cloud, was also inspired to create something different. 

“I just wanted to show different ways you can experiment with clay, and the different textures you can create,” said Cloud.

The Westminster visual arts students have visions behind each of their pieces of art, and  the Upper School Arts Exhibition showcased each of those visions perfectly. The pieces turned Broyles into a unique blend of 2D and 3D with the mediums varying between photography, drawing and painting, and sculpture and ceramics. 

Edited by Alexandra Yuan

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