Young Artists showcase work at 2021 Fine Arts Festival

A long-time tradition makes a remarkable post-quarantine comeback

On April 20, 2021, MHHS artists featured their work from the past two school years in the annual Fine Arts Festival. The festival was held in the Hangar, with art categorized by class/level.

The awards are as follows:

Best of Show

Rachel Howald, Patience

Art IV

1st- Kaitlyn Miller – Charcoal

2nd- Ava Obert – Watercolor

3rd- Reagan Buckley – Charcoal

4th- Kaylee Anderson – Oil

HM- Cheyenne Ethridge – Oil

HM- Heaven Wooten – Pastel

Art III

1st- Ian Blair – Charcoal

2nd- Grace Hilvert – Pen & Ink

3rd- Stormy Kapelski – Pastel

4th- Sarah Amato – Ink

HM- Cadence Repp – Colored Ink

HM- Haley Czeschin – Watercolor

HM- Kate Davis – Pastel

Art II

1st- Joshua Boelkens – Pen & Ink

2nd- Ty Lawrence – Pastel

3rd- Jayden Hansen – Pen & Ink

4th- Brianna Balsano – Charcoal

HM- Ali Collins – Pen & Ink

HM- Cayla McMaster – Pen & Ink

Art I

1st- Trinity Coger – Marker

2nd- Faith Hilvert – Acrylic

3rd- Kendall Carter – Pencil

4th- Jasmine Conner – Perspective

HM- Riley Straka – Still Life

HM- Roxi Botts – Pencil & Marker

Art History

1st- Hayden Bahr – Clay

2nd- Cayden Jones – Pen and Ink

3rd- Grace Callahan – Clay

HM- Callie Parker

HM- Daxton Hickman

Foreign Language Integrations

Picasso Reproductions

1st- Kaylee Anderson

2nd- Grace Hilvert

3rd- Daxton Hickman

4th- Brittany Sims

HM- Cheyenne Ethridge

Piñatas 

1st- Erin Recktenwald

2nd- Mackenzie Hayes & Caelei Stanton

3rd- Jonathan Neal & Brody Patterson

HM- Charles Hubbard

HM- Conley Ulman & Trista Teeter

French Projects

1st- Bridgette Armstrong

2nd- Ellise Darracq

3rd- Cadence Repp

HM- Suzanna Pickers

HM- Timothy Danner

“[The Fine Arts Festival showcases] pretty much every single artwork we’ve done throughout the year,” says senior Haley Czeschin. She begins to explain what work, exactly, is featured. Pieces from art history and all visual art classes (I-IV) are displayed, as well as foreign language projects (for example, Spanish II students recently completed an assignment in which they made piñatas).

As the long-annual event was unfortunately canceled last year, Tuesday night’s showcase held that much more weight to this year’s artists.

“I have my art from last year and this year, as well as some pieces I did at home… This year, we didn’t have the junior high come down and [show their work].”

“Overthink” by Haley Czeschin (oil paint)

“Coming in and learning from different people, [not just] my teacher, opened up my eyes… It’s also about finding your style of art and how you want to express yourself.”

In her centerpiece– or what could be argued as such– titled Overthink (see left), Czeschin admits it was a passion project of sorts. The piece shows a girl with three pairs of red and increasingly tired eyes, with self-deprecating thoughts such as “My best friend hates me” or “I’m left infinitely alone.”

Though she confesses the red streaks were not initially blood, the viewer can see it representing how damaging overwhelming insecurity can be. Mental pain can result in (or be just as bad as) its physical counterpart.

“[This piece] was a challenge just because I’ve had a really rough time in the last few months,” she admits. “I’m going to use this as a therapeutic method for me. Every single time I thought of something, I’d write it down– and it would end up on the painting.

It was a challenge just because I’ve had a really rough time in the last few months… [Overthink] really got me through a lot these past few months.”

— Haley Czeschin

[Overthink] really got me through a lot these past few months. And I feel like I’ve reflected on it and [noticed] how much I’ve grown from [when I first started this piece].”

Czeschin has also explored other themes such as suicide awareness and has worked on finding her style. She says it’s getting there, but she isn’t quite satisfied with the look yet (then again, art styles are fluid and always evolving, are they not?)

Czeschin has worked on purging herself of specific visual expectations when beginning a piece. She describes it as “going in blind,” but in the best way possible. She lets her feelings guide the process– the end result becoming a culmination of her endeavors and emotions for however long she’s worked.

However, not all artists approach their art as catharsis. Take, for example, Ian Blair. He doesn’t see his work extension of himself but still derives joy in the process. His goals for his senior year are to work faster, pursue a more realistic style, and try larger pieces.

“Jordy Profile” by Ian Blair (chalk pastel)

“I really like that style of hyperrealism, so I’d like to get better at that and better at my details. I don’t have any huge goals… I’d definitely like to try different mediums… to challenge myself. I’ve got a lot left to try.”

Even so, he’s still aware of how far he’s come as an artist.

“I kinda wish that I had some of my art from last year here [to show improvement],” he says. “‘Cause it’s completely different from last year. One year can do a lot.”

This “one year” has acted as a catalyst for exploration and improvement. Not only were young artists stuck at home– their paintings or drawings being the easiest and low-risk outlet, but they were forced to improvise with what they had.

“I think [quarantine] helped a lot just because Mrs. Ivens… had us explore things we normally wouldn’t do… I tried a lot more mediums and styles than I would’ve before that.”

That aforementioned free range and variety is something Blair values a lot. “In Art III and IV, except for the self-portrait, [the teacher] gives us a deadline and we have to make some kind of art piece before that deadline. And there’s no medium or specific subject matter we have to follow… I like that a lot more than [prompt-based art classes].”

Unfortunately, with many options comes ambivalence. If you have a million paths ahead of you, how will you know which one to take?

Junior Ian Blair stands next to his display

“I work really slowly because I’m really indecisive… I think I’ve gotten faster as the year has gone on. It’s definitely caused me to experiment a lot more with things I wouldn’t do. I oil-painted for the first time– I didn’t like it– but that’s fine… It’s definitely made me better, just having that [creative freedom].”

Blair’s favorite piece is “Jordy Profile,” a portrait of his dog (see above).

“It was very fun to do. And I think the total working time was maybe an hour and a half… I don’t really express myself emotionally, but it’s the most fun I’ve had doing a piece.”

Although he plans to pursue art as a hobby in the future, Blair doesn’t view it as a potential career. “It’s weird to think anybody would want to buy my art.” Instead, he wants to go into engineering.

Joshua Boelken’s “Elephant constellations” (11×14 charcoal on paper)

Sophomore Joshua Boelkens can’t say the same. Though he’s an underclassman, he is already working with Big Vista– a clothing company based in South Lake Tahoe, CA– to screenprint his designs. One of them: Elephant Constellations, an 11×14 charcoal piece on paper and recipient of the Scholastic Alliance for Young Writers and Artists’ regional silver key.

“There’s this national contest and I won second in the state,” he explained. This aforementioned scholarship grants him $10,000 USD to any college he wishes. Even so, Boelkens doesn’t plan on pursuing higher education.

…I just kept working at [my art] and researching it.”

— Josh Boeklens

When asked about his growth, Boelkens asked “What’s the opposite of growth? I feel like I upgraded on supplies,” he continues, “and that really helped. And I just kept working at it and researching it.”

When asked about working with newer mediums, Boeklens says he prefers grayscale.

“I’ve been doing [art] for six years now. I’ve explored pretty much every medium, but since I’m colorblind…” (which, I admit I knew at some point, but forgot until halfway through the interview) “…charcoal [is] kind of the easiest for me to work with.”