High schoolers to showcase art
By Hannah Spranger, Reporter
For the month of May, Vashon Center for the Arts will be showing an exhibit full of vibrant and diverse works crafted from different mediums. The artists featured in the exhibit are comprised solely of VHS students. This collaboration occurs biennially and spans back multiple decades.
This is the first year that Kristen Dallum has been the art teacher during the exhibit.
“This is a tradition going back several decades, so it’s really exciting for me that this is my first opportunity to help bring that work to the show,” Dallum said.
The show presents an opportunity to create something that is different than making art for oneself or a class.
“The thought process is different because people are gonna see this,” junior Maddi Deck said. “That’s a little bit more pressure than just if you were going to see it, and it was for yourself.”
This display aspect can be challenging because it forces the artists to consider what their audience wants to see.
“I mean, you kinda wanna do what other people want to look at and … want to buy, but also you want to do your own work,” junior River Gregorich said.
Finding the balance between making art commercially and staying true to oneself is not easy. When Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) brought on Lynann Politte as gallery manager in December of 2018, she made her views on the topic clear.
“I think that if you keep going commercial, then you’re going to lose yourself,” Politte said. “I’m an advocate, and I say it to anyone who does anything: do what you do … and the audience will find you.”
Many of the students who are participating have displayed art publicly in the past, and most have had positive experiences.
“[What’s most rewarding is] probably seeing people’s reactions to the pieces, and going up to it and hearing them say something about it,” Gregorich said. “It’s really cool seeing their smiles.”
The show offers the opportunity for young artists to receive feedback from a wide, diverse audience.
“I hope, and I do believe, that they’re going to get some interaction and feedback about their art,” Politte said. “It is [empowering] as an artist.”
Part of the experience and process of an exhibit is the interaction between the art and the audience.
“I hope that Vashon Island feels proud of the youth of this island and what they stand for and the issues and values they’re willing to engage with in their art-making, and with their willingness to take risks,” Dallum said.
It is important to both Dallum and Politte that young artists and students are welcomed into Vashon’s artistic community.
“I think it’s good for our community to see how strong and how interconnected we are with the arts with students as well,” Politte said.
Some students displaying art are choosing pieces with the intent of moving their audience or influencing people’s opinions and thoughts.
“I want them to get [the art, and] … as long as they like it and have an opinion on it, I think that’s cool,” Deck said. “They could not like it, and that’s okay.”
Many students also hope to present something that is unique to the exhibit.
“I want [the audience] to see it as creative and something they haven’t seen before because I don’t like having pieces that are like other pieces that I’ve seen online,” Gregorich said. “I want mine to be really original, and I want … people to take it in.”
Dallum is using this opportunity not only to give students the ability to showcase their art, but also to encourage the students’ growth as artists.
“I want them to feel both celebrated and encouraged,” Dallum said. “I want them to be able to recognize that the work that they do in art matters and can influence others and can be celebrated for who they are and what they make.”
Not only does the show allow growth for the students participating, but the experience is beneficial to Dallum as a teacher and mentor.
“The most rewarding part for me is students getting excited about the opportunity to share their work with the wider world, and perhaps it even prompting them to reconsider their own work in a different way and consider what they want to share,” Dallum said.