This article was originally published in the summer 2013 Harker Quarterly.
Spring is a special time for art at Harker, when all three campuses hold exhibits, giving students age-appropriate venues in which to display various works they have completed throughout the year. At the lower and middle school shows, students featured their best drawings, paintings, carvings and ceramics. In the upper school, older students showcased selected items from a range of artistic media, including sketches, chalk pastels and bronze castings. Below is a year-end reflection of art at Harker, which was, indeed, in full bloom this past spring!
Lower School Students Impress with Wide Range of Work
Harker’s youngest artists (K-5 students) kicked off their annual art show at the lower school with a well-attended opening reception in May. Refreshments were served as exhibiting students once again demonstrated an impressive range of abilities in their remarkably sophisticated sculptures, drawings and architectural designs.
The festive art show began in the main lobby outside the Bucknall gymnasium and wound its way into the gym and up the stairs, all the way to the top floor classrooms.
Displays were grouped by themes which included, among other items, grade 5 oil pastels dubbed “Inspired Starry Nights,” grade 3 foil/metallic pen creations called “African Reliquary Figures” and grade 2 ceramic “Self-Portraits.”
Among the grade 4 art on display were many illustrations of vases holding dainty pussy willows and scenes of bridges running over beautiful waterways. Meanwhile, grade 1 students created a series of unique depictions of owls using chalk pastels, clay, acrylics and even Sharpie pens. Kindergartners specialized in creating playful pictures of sea creatures, moonlit pumpkins and flowers.
“I think it’s really cool to see everything the other grades are doing,” said Rashmi Iyer, grade 5, who had stopped to admire several works in the art show on her way up to class.
“This year we got to try new things,” she added, excitedly noting that she had created a “Starry Night” illustration (based on the famous Van Gogh piece) as well as some ceramic animal sculptures.
Arushi Nety, also grade 5, added that even though she doesn’t consider herself an artist, she enjoyed making a ceramic whale and seeing it on display at the art exhibit. “It’s a very different type of whale,” she said, with obvious pride.
Middle School Students Showcase Increasingly Complex Pieces
The middle school art exhibit is unique in that its opening reception is held off-site, at the Saratoga main reception lobby, to showcase the quality of middle school art for the many visitors to the school’s main office.
The beautiful gallery-style showing featured select student work of colorful paintings, ceramics, figurines, wire sculptures and mobiles. After a brief run at the upper school, it was relocated to the Blackford multipurpose room.
Among the items on display were animal-themed ceramics, playful illustrations of sneakers and high-heeled shoes, small canvas paintings held on stands, intricate hanging glass designs and an array of sculptures depicting familiar scenes, including that of a diner.
In May, the middle school hosted an end-of-the-year art exhibit at its Blackford campus, which was all-inclusive and ran through that month following an opening afternoon reception.
According to art instructor Elizabeth Saltos, at the end of each year the middle school’s visual arts program honors outstanding students working in various media with Golden Brush awards.
“The students who stand out in an art class are the ones who consistently explore each lesson. They take it farther. They use it as a window into their minds. What these students create goes beyond the lesson and reveals something about themselves,” said Saltos.
Beyond the Harker shows, Saltos was excited to note that a number of her students had artwork selected for display in the nearby Saratoga Rotary Exhibit at West Valley College, also held in May.
Upper School Students Create Gallery-Style Art
It was nearly March when Harker’s talented AP Studio Art students put their works on display at a special reception held in the upper school’s Nichols Hall atrium. Using a variety of media, grade 12 students created paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs covering a vast range of styles and themes.
Inspired by Tim O’Brien’s book, “The Things They Carried,” Emily Wang created a series of drawings depicting famous historical events, such as the raising of the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima, the Tiananmen Square protests and the Vietnam War.
Meanwhile, a series of sculptures by Sylvie Dobrota illustrated principles of tension and movement that came to mind while examining a knot. Eric Swenson’s photography portraits featured subjects as they imagined key moments in their lives, such as the passing of a loved one or a climactic scene in a movie.
The professionally-styled show was visited by both students and faculty, who strolled through the atrium admiring the various projects. AP Studio Art is a high-level class for talented artists, mostly seniors, interested in both 3-D art, taught by Jaap Bongers, and 2-D art, taught by Pilar Agüero-Esparza.
Following on the successful heels of the AP Studio Art exhibit was the upper school’s regular annual art exhibition held in May, also at the Nichols Hall atrium gallery. That show featured juried art selections, distribution of prizes to a dozen student artists and DJ music (sponsored by the Spirit Club) during a long lunch on the day of its opening.
The exhibition, which featured more than 150 pieces in various genres such as paintings, ceramics, advanced photography, 3-D models and sketches, was juried by Ace Lehner, an Oakland-based artist, arts and culture writer and art educator. In judging the works, Lehner looked for technical proficiency, critical engagement or inspiration, and originality.
Standing in front of her still-life depiction of strawberries, exhibiting artist and senior Molly Wolfe said that she finds taking art classes to be a great “de-stressor” and wonderful way to take a break from the pressure of studying.
“I love it! I advise other students to take art, even if only for one semester,” said Wolfe.