The recent graduates of 2015, recognized for their achievements during the May 29 commencement, were very talented art students, their teacher, Christine Maher said this week — and in upcoming sophomore and junior classes that tradition of talent will continue.
Art students at WHRHS will be honored with prestigious opportunities in the weeks to come as the school year comes to a close.
Mikaela Bukow and Brittany Lynch, both currently juniors, were chosen to work with an elite group of art students — Art Stars at the South Shore Art Center 119 Ripley Road, Cohasset will be part of the 60th annual art festival June 19-21. The exhibit called Earth, Wind and Fire, juried by Carl Belz, will be unveiled at the event. Both girls worked on the exhibit, with murals that are sixteen feet long. Visit ssac.org for further information and program times as there are events for the entire family.
Bukow was also a first place winner at a Statehouse art exhibit sponsored by state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury. She finds inspiration in the colors of dusk, landscapes and observing things out the window. She especially enjoys painting with acrylics.
“I will take a photo and then paint it later,” she said about when she sees something inspiring.
Lynch placed second under painting submissions and tied for third were Alyssa Johnson of Whitman and Hailey Hennessey of Hanson all in the same medium. Several other students from W-H placed in various other media. The contest, which is held in the fall, was open to Sixth District Student Artists at the high school level.
More than a dozen art students also took part in the Memory Project, a heartwarming portrait program supporting the world’s orphan children again this year.
They worked for several weeks to complete portraits using a photo assigned to them by Memory Project organizers. They completed the portraits, which were then taken to India and given as gifts to the children. For some students such, as junior Ian Davis, working with pastels presented a challenge, but found it rewarding to make something for someone less fortunate. This compelled him to try something new.
W-H chose India from the nonprofit program list of several countries with which Memory Project is currently working. Last year they worked on portraits for Mexican orphans.
“The orphans in these centers don’t have baby photos and this is something we were able to give them to keep,” said Maher who has taught at W-H for nearly two decades.
The idea of giving from the heart and creating an image of the child who may never have a photograph of themselves or a story of who they were at a young age is such an inspirational project, she said.
The Memory Project organization also followed up by creating a video so student artists were able to see the orphans receiving their portraits. Several of the older children in India who spoke on tape said, “Thank you for making me this portrait,” as their faces lit up.
The younger children were seen dancing and twirling with excitement as they realized the portrait was of them.
A $15 participation fee was required to defray costs for volunteers and to create an art therapy program in the orphanage.
The Memory Project was developed by Ben Schumacher as a graduate student of social work at the University of Wisconsin.
In 2003, while volunteering at an orphanage in Guatemala, Ben learned that the kids had few special belongings to represent moments of their childhood. They had very few photos, for example, to serve as memories from their early years. Since Ben had always enjoyed making portraits in school art classes, he had the idea to get art students involved in creating portraits for the kids.
“To date the project has created nearly 50,000 portraits for kids in 34 countries, and we intend to keep going as long as possible,” according to the official website memoryproject.org
Davis and fellow junior Eric Lander will spend the weekend June 12-13 with other students handpicked for the prestigious Art All State. Fewer than 100 Massachusetts students were chosen to participate in the program, which will be held at UMass, Dartmouth.
The entry process included an interview, a review of their art resume, a written essay and questionnaire.
After the interview process the students are then notified on their acceptance in the program.
“They will have a wonderful opportunity to work with small groups and professional artists,” Maher said. “They may be given cardboard and paint for example, and the entire room becomes a formed room of art.”
During the culmination of the program family members are invited to view the installation projects created by the students.
One past exhibit included thousands of colorful strings and wires, said Davis who said he had researched some of the years past projects aheaad of his trip. He enjoys working with ceramics and creating with his hands, and is passionate about drawing.
Lander enjoys pen drawing. He creates cartoons and usually finds himself working with acrylics. He is inspired by unique facial features and transforms people he knows into characters.
“It is rare that we would have two students chosen for the same program. This is the second year W-H has had two students chosen. Sometimes schools don’t have anyone chosen,” said Maher.
She allows everyone to participate in contests or juried programs at their own levels and categories, and considers how well they will best succeed. Her classes, from beginning to advanced, have numerous opportunities and yearly programs outside the school. Their strengths and potential as well as their personalities — sometimes the interview process or speaking at the conference can bring them out of their shell and grow in self-esteem, she said.
Last month students Elizabeth Ingram, Leah Ricciarelli and Caroline Woodward who all worked on portraits for the Memory Project were also chosen to attend and speak at Stone Hill College in Easton at a day-long convention.
“We sat on a panel; we gave an explanation of our orphan portraits and also answered questions,” said Ingram who is a sophomore. “It was a new experience being able to present our project.” She was recently awarded eight places in showing her works in the Art in Bloom at W-H, a reception celebrating the arts.
Ricciarelli who said she has been drawing forever recently drew a Kurt Cobain scene of the singer on stage. Although before her time, she enjoys Nirvana music and knows the story behind Cobain’s troubled life.
Woodward has always enjoyed art since a young age. She calls her art therapeutic. She uses pastel and charcoal. She understands and uses gesture drawings, which is a concept of movement. Maher called the technique challenging but said Caroline meets the challenge well.