“Around eighty percent of seniors have taken at least one art class. This allows the Senior Art Show to bring together a lot of people with otherwise diverse interests, which is really amazing,” said Oyster River High School art teacher Maria Rosi of the upcoming senior exposition.
Serving as an opportunity for any and all senior students to showcase their talents, the 2019 Senior Art Show will open on Wednesday, May 29th, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm in the multi-purpose room at ORHS. The show will also run throughout the school day on the 30th and 31st, giving students and staff alike the opportunity to further explore the senior class’ wide array of artistic abilities.
“I think it’s important to have the Senior Art Show because, just like any other activity, some of us have been working and practicing for years,” said Emma Kovalcik (‘19), who will have several pieces featured in the show. “Sports teams get senior games and the band has concerts, so this is our opportunity to show our community the skills we’ve been cultivating during our time here.”
Rosi touched upon some of these skills that will be featured in the show, noting, “there will be drawings, paintings, sculptures, pottery, photographs, fashion, welding, and everything in between. This diversity comes from the fact that [the art department] tries to tap into students that pursue art even outside of the high school classes.”
In addition to being appreciated by the artists, the show’s diversity also aims to makes it special for the viewers. “Art is sometimes an ignored, overlooked area of school that I think is super important. I feel like most people don’t ever come into the art room outside of class, but since the show is so present when people walk by and through it, they get a chance to see what people have made and how talented all of the different artists are,” said Liev Manck (‘19), who will have several drawings and paintings included in the show.
Fellow artist Demetrius Phofolos (‘19) agreed. “We work really hard in the art department and art is more than a full-time class for me. I spend more time doing art than I do studying for math or writing English papers, and it’s nice to be able to be recognized for all the hard work that I put in over the year.”
Even students who have only taken one or two art classes can have their works included in the show, which adds to the depth of the pieces that are included. “I’ve really liked looking at all the pieces in the Art Show, even before I was a senior, so it’s going to be exciting to have my own work in the show this year,” said Becca Shay (‘19). “I’ve only taken pottery [at the high school], so I wouldn’t consider myself an artist, but it’s nice to be featured regardless.”
The show, which has been a longtime tradition at ORHS, also aims to highlight progression as much as it does talent. “[The Senior Art Show] is the only time besides during my college application process where I’ve had the opportunity to look back on all my work and see what I’ve accomplished the last four years,” said Kovalcik, who will be attending Maine College Of Art next fall as a furniture design major. “But, since I tend to only treasure the pieces I’m proud of, I already had a good idea going into the show of what I wanted to put in,” she said.
Phofolos had a similar approach towards choosing which pieces to include in the show. “I laid everything out that I’ve done this year and that was the first time that I had all of my art collected together. It was then pretty obvious at that point what I should put in the senior art show and what I shouldn’t.” He continued, saying, “you can definitely tell what pieces I did at the beginning of the year; they’re radically different from the pieces I did near the end of the year in showing how much better I’ve gotten.”
Aside from highlighting artistic growth, the Senior Art Show also helps students master presentation, which is an important part of the art department’s curriculum.
“The senior art show is really about the bigger picture. The show is the culminating experience of so many students who have spent so much time expressing themselves here in the art department. To them, it’s enormously important to learn the final set of skills of how to present their work in such a way that makes an impact on those who come to view the show,” said Rosi.
Whether in the form of matting drawings, paintings, or photographs, putting the final touches on artwork has certainly added a feeling of realness to the show. “I’m a little stressed out, but it’s going to be nice to be able to look at everything I’ve done over the years organized and all together,” said Phofolus. “I’m definitely excited to see the final product.”
Rosi agreed, adding, “the senior art show is the greatest stress of our year, but it’s also the greatest love of our year. When it’s all set up and the teachers are sitting in the room with their students, I feel prouder than proud when I look around.”
This sentiment was shared by the students, who have an equal feeling of pride towards their teachers. “All the art teachers have been extremely helpful and have definitely helped me grow as an artist. I’m also very thankful to have had a place and the resources to create art,” said Celeste Cashmore (‘19) who will be attending Maine College Of Art next year as a sculpture and ceramics major.
Kovalcik agreed, adding, “the art department here has been so helpful in supporting me and my friends. They’ve created such a welcoming environment that allows kids to experiment and find their calling,” she said. “I came into high school loving art but thinking it wasn’t possible to make a career out of it. But since Mr. Lawrence, Mrs. Bilynski, and Mrs. Rosi are all walking examples of people making a career out of art, they really enabled me to pursue a future in the arts myself.”
In terms of supporting students’ futures and passions, the art department has made it their goal to support as many interests as possible through the range of classes offered. “If we only taught a couple kinds of classes, it would be a detriment. Not only would there only be a few types of art in the show, but not all students would be able to find a place in the art department,” said Rosi.
Whether through the availability of classes or the preparation for the upcoming Senior Art Show, many artists are confident that the art department has made a lasting impact on their lives. “I feel like I have acquired enough skills in just the couple classes that I’ve taken here to be able to go off in the future and pursue art,” said Phofolus, who is heading to the University of New Hampshire next year. “It’s going to be a hobby for the rest of my life, especially since there’s just a very special feeling that I get when I make art.”
To get a chance to look at the wide array of works included in this years’ Senior Art Show, be sure to visit the multi-purpose room tonight, May 29th, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm, or during the school day on the 30th or 31st.
Article by Devan McClain