Beyond ArtFest: How the art department supports students year-round
April 11, 2019
Although ArtFest has come and gone, the opportunities for art students to showcase and share their work are only just beginning.
According to art teachers Thomas Szmrecsanyi and Emily Wolfe, the art department works hard to provide students with chances to share their art through things like the Legacy Project, Scholastic Awards and the National Art Honor Society, to name a few.
Because art tends to be a more solitary activity with less opportunity to be shared as with activities such as sports or performing arts, ensuring students’ talent is still showcased is one challenge the art department faces, according to Szmrescsanyi.
“Just as it is in any area of academics, the students aren’t really doing artwork just to get a grade or just to fulfill a requirement,” Szmrescsanyi said. “They are doing their work to express themselves and to do something unique and different and their ideas don’t really exist unless they are allowed to convey them to other people.”
Since it is one of the only large-scale opportunities for students to share their artwork with peers, art students, like Anna Abundis ’20, say ArtFest becomes that much more important.
“ArtFest is such a huge moment,” Abundis said. “It really is a big part of our school spirit to have a work in a show, so I think it really focuses the motivation and drive of all the art students.”
Szmrescsanyi agreed, adding that the length of set-up for large-scale art shows inhibits the amount of opportunities the department can offer.
“That’s why ArtFest is such a huge thing,” Szmrescsanyi said. “It is bigger for them than maybe one of the many events would be for students in another area where it’s a little more common for them to be showcasing in front of their peers. What comes with ArtFest is probably students being very aware that this is that opportunity. This is where they stand before everybody and their work is evaluated.”
According to Wolfe, the art students at South are proud of their artwork and love to share it with others.
“Students work hard to develop skills and use them to realize their artistic vision,” Wolfe said. “It’s important to recognize that dedication and those successes.”
Some art students, like Abundis, have turned to social media, like Instagram, as an additional platform to share work with their peers.
“I started to do (my art social media) right before ArtFest last year,” Abundis said. “I wanted somewhere that I could put my stuff in a place where it would be easily accessible to others.”
Other students utilize opportunities in the broader community that are shared through the art department, such as the Grosse Pointe Art Center and the Johnstone and Johnstone art show, according to Szmrescsanyi.
“The art students at South are proud of their artwork and love to share it with others,” Wolfe said.
According to Wolfe, there are also more informal ways that students share work with their peers.
“(Art students) talk to their peers about their work, show them pieces they are proud of, involve them in the creation of the work and invite them to the art room to see what they are working on,” Wolfe said.
Abundis expressed the importance of always recognize the talents of the art students at South, regardless of whether or not ArtFest is going on.
“Pay attention to the artists here,” Abundis said. “They have a lot to share and there’s a lot that’s going on.”