The High Country has long been considered a mecca for visual artists, but this summer, we will be losing a couple dozen of the region’s brightest budding artists.
That’s because these artists will be taking their talents to the next level at universities and colleges across America.
For the 36th consecutive year, the senior art students at Watauga High School will present the Senior Show Art Exhibit. This year’s event will take place Wednesday through Friday, May 16 to 18, with a public reception to take place at the WHS commons area on Thursday, May 17.
During the reception, a new three-dimensional mural created by the students and artist Pam Brewer will be unveiled in the WHS commons area. The reception will feature an awards ceremony, light hors d’oeurves and beverages and is free and open to the public.
A number of the WHS senior artists have participated in the advanced placement (AP) art program.
During the semester, the artists have posted photographs of their artwork on their individual AP web pages, along with an online thesis describing their work. These individual online portfolios will feature 24 pieces to be judged against other student portfolios from around the nation.
Just like the AP studies in math and English, a high AP art score can translate into college credits.
At next Thursday’s art reception, the art students will vote on the top pieces in the juried exhibit. The top three vote-getters will receive gift certificates from Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff for $250, $200 and $150.
Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff is also donating easels and other materials to help make the Senior Art Show a reality.
“My portfolio is focused around human emotions and feelings you see but you don’t really see,” WHS senior artist Sara Bartlett said. “There are things in life that you can see but can’t fully understand, such as love, rage, belief and stress, just to name a few. (My) images are either original photos taken by me or images taken by friends that have been interpreted into my own style of drawing. I have a very expressive drawing style and normally incorporate charcoal – my favorite media – in some way combined with other media.”
Allyson Hartley said of her portfolio, “My works demonstrate a concentration on the human body as a vehicle to express human emotions through the feeling that is conveyed within the pieces. I put a lot of time into all of these pieces, and I felt like I almost experience the emotion when I was creating the piece. Piece No. 7 is my strongest image, in reference to emotion. The body language makes it seem like the girl in the drawing is breathing out, or it could easily be conveyed as giving up.”
Jordan Thomas is a senior art student who began the year creating works that looked like illustrations from a children’s book. According to art instructor Shelton Wilder, Thomas has challenged herself throughout the course of year, and her artwork has taken on darker and more serious themes.
“When I began my concentration, I embarked with the notion of exploring the category of ‘illustration,’ specifically pursuing the creation of creative images that defied the constraints of reality,” Thomas said. “Visual art is one of the few art forms that is able to create pieces that explore concepts unknown to the actual world. As it progressed, I found myself veering not only away from realistic techniques, but from realistic images. The images gradually become less and less likely to occur in reality, and more and more fantastical. The odd sights of giraffes frolicking about in the ether, of smoky monsters that only exist in the corners of our imaginations, and of other such impossibilities were the images that I wanted my concentration to reveal.
“As I explored this concept, my concentration began to veer not only away from realism, but also from the whimsical. I found myself creating images that were far more dark and powerful than I had originally intended. I learned not only to create illustrations that embodied by happy imaginings, but those that were less pleasant, as well.”
Brandon Mast is another senior artist who enjoys exploring the imaginary world of fantastical images.
“The central idea of my concentration is fantasy, especially monsters,” Mast said. “I began drawing monsters at a young age, imagining wild concepts for paranormal creatures and then proceeding to transfer these ideas onto paper or canvas. As I began formally studying art in school, I learned how to effectively create my monsters in art, and become more detailed with the execution of each piece.
“The one thing I really love about my monsters is even though I shoot for an unrealistic, imaginative feel in them, I always incorporate something from real life. Whether it be a texture, object, plant, etc., they all start with a part of life and, from there, I twist and fix it up to fit my ideas in art.”
For senior artist Sadie Whyte, visual art has become a vehicle for exploring things that have never existed before.
“My concentration is centered around the idea of surrealism, or the depiction of unrealistic things and circumstances,” Whyte said. “These images are unrealistic in several ways: portraying exaggeration, transformation and symbolism. Some images seem comical and interesting due to exaggeration and some just because they don’t make sense. Others, however, represent a deeper meaning through metaphor and symbolism in art or by depicting the literal portrayal of several abstract feelings and ideas.”
Many of the senior art students are utilizing modern technology, including computers and digital photography, to create original works of art.
“The central idea of my concentration uses my own photography,” senior Abigail Harrellson said. “I have used the manipulation of photography to produce images that are meaningful and interesting. I also wanted to portray my journey from a traditional, documentarian view of photography to a more abstract and creative application. Through my exploration of photography, I became more and more interested in the graphic design element, and that, too, is evident in my concentration.”
Artist Tara Trivette’s concentration is on the time honored tradition of portraiture, albeit with a twist.
“In the class, we had an assignment to capture someone without showing their face,” Trivette said. “This was called ‘minus the fact portraits.’ This concept really interested me and is portrayed in most of my paintings. It was challenging to capture someone without showing their main focal point.
Portraits challenged me to try and capture a person’s nature through a painting. Each picture says something different about the person in them. “