*Cover artwork is by Sammy Wendland.
The students at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts (Charter Arts) are pursuing something beyond a traditional education. They are pursuing the integration of their artistic development with all of the comprehensive education that we require of high school students. As they take risks and explore the boundaries of their dynamic artistic talents, these students come into a fuller awareness of who they are as individuals. This passion and exploration is evident in the Charter Arts’ annual Spring Student Visual Arts Exhibit, which went live as a virtual exhibit on April 2nd. In this article, Southsider explores a few pieces created by young artists in our community. These pieces are only a taste of the full scope of incredible artwork in the exhibit, which you can find here.
An Overview of Charter Arts Spring Student Exhibition
The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts (Charter Arts) is an audition-based public charter school that provides a comprehensive curriculum for high school students who have a passion for the arts. Students major in one of the following artistic areas: dance, instrumental music, literary arts, production arts, theatre, visual arts, or vocal music. As a regional charter school, the student body consists of students who hail from more than 40 school districts from a ten-county region in eastern Pennsylvania.
Lorie Reinhard, Artistic Director of Visual Arts at the school, describes the exhibit: “The annual Spring Student Exhibit includes in-class and personal series artwork examples by visual arts students grades 9-12. This virtual exhibit is a testament to students’ passion for creative expression and quality of work during a challenging time. The personal series of artwork enables students to explore their developing artistic voice through a process for designing and building the work from beginning planning stages to the final project. Students incorporate their meaningful learning experiences, growing knowledge, and artistic training with focus on the elements and principles of art and design.”
Five Dynamic Student Artists from the Exhibition
Below, Southsider explores five pieces of art that are representative of the work of five students featured in the Charter Arts Spring Student Exhibit. These students range from freshman to juniors, and the styles, mediums, and emotions they utilize in their artwork are diverse. In our discussion and interpretations of these pieces, we also included some insights from the artists themselves, allowing them to contextualize their artwork on their own terms.
Josiah William’s artwork manages to capture both the metallic and the organic. When asked what inspired this particular piece, Josiah says: “I wanted to capture that fearsome snarl, that reptile aspect recreated into a machine.” Indeed, the powerful fearsomeness of the typical representation of a dinosaur is multiplied by the metal ridges that function as scales, and the nuts and bolts that mark this dinosaur as an intentionally created creature. Josiah’s artwork is especially relevant within the context of the recent trends in cinema that explore artificial intelligence and the implications of life-like technology.
Emma-Rose Biason’s artwork evokes an ephemeral, fairytale world. This particular piece is a master copy, or reproduction of a piece of art already in existence. Emma-Rose created this master copy to practice various skills and explore her own style. Emma-Rose says about this piece: “In completing this piece, I was allowed to explore intense colors, lighting changes, and the intricacies of skin tones to produce a more lifelike imagining. I greatly admire Kari-lise Alexander, an artist whom I found on Instagram and whose work pretty much embodies what I hope to accomplish as an artist, so when the chance came for me to complete a master copy of one of her works, I had to take it.” In Emma-Rose’s version, the brushstrokes and color choices create a more vibrant, evanescent, delicate impression, rather than the darkness and despondency of the original.
Bella Safadi’s portrait catches both the poise and the smallest of smiles within her subject’s self-expression. Bella says about this piece of art: “This portrait is one of three in a series of acrylic paintings of my friends. I was inspired by the sense of community and creativity we’ve shared over the years as a result of our meeting in art school.” Friendship is so evident in the care of the shading and color contrast, creating the closeness the viewer immediately feels with Bella’s subject. Thanks to that strong and intimate gaze that Bella captures, viewers are pulled in by the humor and joy of young artists supporting each other.
Sammy Wendland’s artwork is layered with hidden detail. The eerie hue of the skeleton, paired with the moment of tumult encapsulated by the spewing words and busted nose, evoke a simultaneous sense of wonder and menace. There is a plot line here, an adventure story full of danger and excitement. Sammy says about this artwork: “My works are a direct look into my daydreams, full of bright colors and bold expressions. Ever since I was young I was fascinated with cartoons and how the characters moved and expressed emotion, so ever since I could navigate a tv remote and control a pencil, my art has had the goal to both portray items and people I see in everyday life while giving a smack of childhood wonder with animated motions and scenarios.”
Kayzee Brown’s artwork uses bold colors and strong lines to create contrast and highlight the small details. For example, the complete darkness of the subject’s bounteous hair is made more intimate by the fraying curls set against the geometric background. The suggestion of the determination of the subject comes out from the intricate details of the set of the jaw and the mouth. Kayzee says about this piece: “My art changes every now and then to reflect how I’m feeling or an issue in the world that has inspired me to put into an image. My style is usually dark but I tend to use other colors that mimic the situation of the art piece and that more people can appreciate and understand.”
While Southsider gives glimpses of a few artists’ works here, many other worthy artists’ pieces await your visit to the online exhibit. As these examples show, young artists in our community are producing amazing work that is worthy of your support and time! Explore more artwork by these artists and other students of Charter Arts by checking out the complete virtual exhibit!
There’s some amazing, beautiful. though-provoking work here!
I’m not going to single out any individual, and I hope you will consider submitting some of your work for inclusion in the next Sustainable Lehigh Valley booklet! [https://www.sustainlv.org/slv]
If you have any questions, email me or [email protected].
P.S. — You’ll see some of your fellow students’ work in the latest issue of the Sustainable Lehigh Valley booklet — those who participated in the 2020 Vision: Eyes On Hunger project last fall.