Students show their stuff at annual fine arts celebration
Post Independent Arts Writer
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – By now, the room dividers are being dismantled and hundreds of pieces of art are being removed from the auxiliary gym at Glenwood Springs High School (GSHS).
But during this past week, the gym was transformed from a place to shoot hoops to an art exhibition hall during the 23rd annual All Glenwood Kids Fine Arts Celebration. About 50 student artists received best in show, first through third place ribbons, and honorable mentions for their work, judged by a panel of artists and professionals in the Glenwood Springs arts community.
“This is some pretty impressive work for kids,” said GSHS art teacher Jack Niswanger last Tuesday as he stood amidst the wide array of artwork displayed in the gym. Niswanger teaches drawing, painting and silkscreen at the school.
The week, which involved not only a fine art exhibition but drama performances, and concerts by GSHS’s Concert Band, Jazz Band, Percussion and Choir, took place this past Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Taking a week and dedicating it to the arts was the brainchild of GSHS teacher Annie Brooks, who, in 1989, started the annual weeklong observance of all things visually, vocally, musically and dramatically artistic. During the subsequent years, Glenwood’s public schools have joined in to show what they’ve been studying and creating throughout the year.
Think of an art form, and it was likely in the visual arts show in one form or another. There were both color and black-and-white photography created both digitally and on film. GSHS art teacher John Linn, who helped organize the week, has a focus on new technology.
“I am especially excited to be bringing technology into the art realm at GSHS with my digital photography and graphic design classes,” he said.
All types of drawing and painting were represented, too, with subject matter that ran the gamut. In the high schoolers’ work there were, naturally, a lot of skulls and teenage icons, such as entertainers Lil Wayne, Johnny Depp, Rhianna and Bruno Mars. But surprisingly, there were also portraits of people long since gone, including Teddy Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley and even E.B. White.
“I gave the kids a range of people,” said Niswanger of the completion portrait drawings, where a student artist completes the second half of a photographed face, “and I let the kids pick which ones they wanted to do.”
Middle school and elementary school artists focused more on animals such as birds and bugs, and on perfecting art techniques such as perspective and use of color.
There was a wide array of ceramics, too, and all styles of stained glass. The show also included student-made furniture, sewing, digital video and graphic design.
For many of the students, art is but one of many subjects that help them to expand their creativity and overall learning experiences. With a nationwide goal of improving linguistic and math skills in the public schools, the push is on for higher proficiencies in these areas.
Niswanger believes that a solid background in the arts can only benefit students seeking higher grades in other subject matters.
“Art is an exercise in constantly reassessing your work,” he said. “And it augments students’ ability to seek creative solutions to all sorts of problems.”
For some students, art seems to be not a means to an end, but the means itself. Take GSHS senior Ian Edquist. Throughout the show, Edquist’s name kept popping up. Included in the show was a range of Edquist’s work, among them, a photograph, a surreal work of a boy’s head transforming into an elephant, and a painting of a mountain peak shrouded in clouds. Even the poster for Fine Arts Week – what John Linn described as a project for his graphic arts class – was crafted by Edquist.
It’s not a surprise that Edquist’s plans after graduation include studying art – or at least a discipline of it. Edquist is planning to attend Colorado Mountain College’s Professional Photography program.
“Photography is my real passion,” said this talented visual artist. “I’d like to complete the two-year degree, and then get into commercial photography, shooting for an outdoor retailer like Patagonia.”
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