It’s not hard to find creativity in U-32. A simple walk through the art hallway will show dozens of student works from different grades and skill levels. One wall section is lined with spooky creatures. Another houses a symbolic illustration depicting the power of media, and another is covered in drawings retelling the graphic novel Watchmen.
But if you look closer, you’re likely to find even more of that astounding work being sketched out in core classes, at callback, or in the atrium. Even more of it is created at home. Students who feel a personal connection to art, beyond any class requirements, produce some of the most amazing work you might not have known to look for.
Five student artists spoke about what their work means to them- inside school and out.
Bailey Morse is a junior at U-32 and a digital artist in her spare time.
Like many others, Bailey has been drawing since childhood. But where many young kids copy cartoons or what other friends are drawing, Bailey’s main inspiration was her own mother.
In particular, young Bailey admired the pretty eyes her mother drew while talking on the phone. One day, she decided to follow suit.
“I remember taking a piece of paper…putting it over my mom’s drawing of an eye, and tracing,” Bailey remembered, “and she said ‘Wow, that’s exactly like what I draw!’. I felt so cool.”
Though she’s since graduated from tracing, Bailey still makes room in her schedule for artwork-even if it means late nights.
During the day, Bailey hasn’t been given as many in-class doodling opportunities as students who work in sketchbooks.
“Teachers are taken aback,” Bailey said, “that I have an electronic instead of a piece of paper.”
Bailey has enjoyed drawing and painting class, and hopes to take more art classes next year, when her schedule calms down. In the meantime, she designs logos for school clubs and Christmas cards for friends. She wishes school would incorporate a digital drawing class, but is happy to teach herself.
Drawing for Bailey is pure enjoyment, separate from the stresses of work, school and college. She draws to relax, while listening to podcasts or watching TV. Even so, she enjoys working with constraints when drawing for others.
In the end, she sees value in both types of art.
“The art I make for other people…I try to make it perfect,” Bailey said. “The ones that I draw for myself…whatever ends up looking good, I’m like ‘alright, I’m proud of this.’”
Her very favorite drawing is a drawing of a corgi, which she did simply as an expression of her own love of dogs.
Charlotte Bodin is a student artist who has worked in both digital and traditional art. At the moment, she prefers traditional, working with pencil and a small sketchbook.
“Everybody draws in Kindergarten,” Charlotte said. “But the moment when I started saying ‘oh, I draw,’ was in third grade.”
She remembers a time where she drew a wolf in seventh grade, and was extremely proud of it. She showed it around to her friends, classmates, and TA. Looking back, she’s no longer proud of it, but she recognizes it as a step in her artistic journey.
“I wanted to be cool, by saying ‘I draw’,” Charlotte said. “But being able to make characters and stories in my head… it became a really specific vision.” She has the most fun when exploring specific ideas and concepts she thinks are interesting, and drew the most when making new friends who cared about art.
“If (art) isn’t something you have a goal of as a career, it’s so easy to forget about it,” she said, “But if you’re surrounded by people who are really passionate about it, it makes it seem normal to spend a couple hours a week drawing.”
Though she’s more connected to her personal work, Charlotte has enjoyed making artwork for class. In particular, she appreciates how it pushed her to try new media and experiment.
One of Charlotte’s favorite drawings came from a class assignment, where she discovered her interest in drawing realistic portraits despite her otherwise cartoony style.
Now that she’s in her senior year, Charlotte has a hard time fitting art into her schedule.
“If school’s a big thing for you,” Charlotte said, “and you don’t have any art classes…it just doesn’t really happen.”
Charlotte sees art as a hobby, but is determined to give it more time when she has time to spare.
Ellie Farr is a senior at U-32 hoping to pursue a career in illustration. She draws and paints both digitally and traditionally, and has also made art with cut paper and jewelry.
She always drew, and attended an art camp during the summer, but first began to take drawing seriously in middle school. She was inspired by animation and graphic novels.
Currently, she takes inspiration from creatives in her own life, as well as examples from history.
As a serious art student, Ellie wishes for more advanced art studies at U-32.
“A lot of our art classes are great for people who are starting out…” Ellie said. “I think something at a higher level would be really beneficial for someone wanting to go into an art field.”
Outside of her ambitions, however, Ellie draws for herself. “The art I do for myself…is a lot simpler.” She said. “If I’m making something for school or for display, I want it to have a message or something you can interpret a little more”
One piece that exemplifies this is a digital drawing of a girl closed in by boxes, cereal, and other consumer items in a closed-in space, fixed on a TV screen. To her, it represents the feeling of being trapped by and glued to media.
More than anything, Ellie loves the feeling of having an art piece come together. “It’s either something that’s spontaneous…and then it becomes the final piece, or it’s something I’ve been working on for a really, really, really long time, and sketching, and doing research for.”
Stella Cannizzaro is a sophomore at U-32. She enjoys drawing, but her primary interest is costume and effect design.
She particularly enjoys horror costumes and effects, and is most inspired by Tim Burton and an uncle that works in film.
Probably her favorite Burton-inspired work is a Beetlejuice costume she made for Halloween. She built wire around a baseball cap, sprayed it with insulation foam, carved the foam, layered on it with paper-mache, made a clay tongue, and covered it with paint and gloss.
“I use this polymorph plastic,” Stella said, matter-of-factly, “which you can melt and shape, and then put yarn in the eyeballs for veins,”
Remarkably, Stella has taught all of this to herself, using the internet and studying costumes from her favorite films.
“Sometimes I can get really frustrated when it doesn’t go the way I wanted to,” Stella said, “But I usually always have fun.”
Though she’s taken drawing classes, she finds her real enjoyment in designing costumes for Stage 32. She made the Audrey II hats for the ensemble singers in U-32’s production of Little Shop of Horrors last year.
She is also part of Branching Out, and studies film through the program.
She hopes to one day work in the film industry herself.
Tegan LaPan is a junior at U-32. She knits, crochets, and does watercolors. She has been painting her whole life, but has recently taken up knitting and crocheting in the past year.
It’s not uncommon to see her knitting or crocheting in class. One moment she’ll just be getting started on a piece, and, the next time you look over, something incredible will already be fully formed.
For Tegan, knitting and crocheting are fun activities, but they are also ways to cope with anxiety.
“I do my best work when I’m really stressed out or really tired,” she said.
Most Tegan’s drawings and paintings are personal, and reflect her thoughts, feelings, and abstract concepts. Tegan likes to build worlds and characters in her mind, and explore them via visual art.
“I can draw whatever I want, and people can take it whichever way they want,” Tegan said, “but it will always have a special meaning to me,”
Tegan’s favorite piece depicted several different versions of herself, juxtaposed with people’s perceptions of her.
“Personal art is definitely more about who I am,” she said, “Rather than what I can do,”.
Her main inspiration comes not from painters or knitters, but from the anonymous Canadian photographer and poet, Atticus.
“He has really amazing poetry,” Tegan said. “I find that is a really profound art form,”
This interdisciplinary inspiration extends to her future plans. Tegan wants to be a copy editor and write books on the side.
“(Art) will still play a big role in my life,” she said, “just not in a traditional way.”