This article originally appeared in the summer 2015 Harker Quarterly.
Art at Harker was in full bloom this past spring, during an array of creative and colorful exhibits held across all four campuses. Enjoy this look back at the varied and impressive artistic talents of students, who happily shared their “labors of love” with the Harker community.
Harker Preschool Holds Second Annual Art Show
For the second year in a row, Harker Preschool held its very own art show on the Union Avenue campus. The “Second Annual Year-End Art Showcase” featured works from every student on campus, which they had made in the art studio throughout the school year.
The captivating exhibit, which ran from May 1 to June 1, included works in the following categories: canvas paintings, self-portraits, ceramics, natural material collage, watercolor paintings, mixed media drawings and more. The exhibit was also a highlight of Grandparents’ Day at the preschool, held in May.
“It was a cumulative display of preschool artistry!” enthused Alexandria Kerekez, Harker Preschool’s art specialist.
Preschoolers of all ages are regularly invited into the art studio to paint, work with clay, hone their pencil skills and learn to observe the world around them while working in a variety of media, according to Kerekez. The school’s outdoor art area allows for further creative expression, where everyday things such as the sun, water and leaves can become part of a project.
Throughout the year, Harker Preschool holds art exhibits. A unique show held in the winter was the “Amazing Rainbow Gallery Show,” in which Kerekez curated a unique display on the exploration and investigation of rainbows. It demonstrated how the preschool curriculum often emerges from the interests of the children – in this case when children observed rainbows in the sky.
Contributions to the show included multimedia artwork from the students, as well as documentation of their work in the STEM and music and movement specialty classes. A fun highlight of the project was when the preschoolers made a rainbow on the ground with roller skates in the outdoor art studio.
When asked about their favorite art project of the year, many of the 4- and 5-year-olds responded that it was “The Canvas Project.” That project, which was included in the spring art show, consisted of a collection of canvas paintings crafted by the eldest preschoolers. The representational work consisted of drafting an image of “a wish” and then translating it into an acrylic painting.
Lower School Art Show Celebrates Artistic Flair of K-5 Students
The lower school art show is a much-anticipated, beloved annual tradition. This year’s exhibition began with an opening reception in the gym’s foyer on the morning of April 27 and ran until May 21.
Sponsored by the lower school art department and after-school art program, the show featured academic and after-school work from K-5 artists. The exhibition was shown in the main office, gym areas (including the lobby, kitchen, by the bleachers, stairwell and balcony), as well as the art rooms.
Exhibiting students once again demonstrated an impressive range of artistic abilities. Art- work on display included monochromatic pencil drawings, watercolor paintings, collages and ceramics. Parents, faculty members and students alike enjoyed the display, which featured works arranged both by theme and grade level.
According to Gerry-louise Robinson, lower school art teacher, this year’s show surpassed expectations. Reminiscing about the exhibit, she recalled: “The color, variety and detail in each and every piece on display would put a smile even on the harshest art critic’s face! Sunflowers, fanciful hens and rock guitars welcomed visitors into the gym lobby, while perfectly poised mannequins and cubist faces quietly watched students enjoy P.E. in the gym itself. Beware the eerie dark trees that followed you up the stairwell, guiding you through fall to winter and onto spring with pumpkins, penguins and printing. Finally, summer appeared with beautiful ceramic balloons and detailed insects. As only a snap- shot of artwork, every grade from kindergarten to fifth helped to transform the lower school into a visual festival of creativity both in flat work and 3-D.”
Hanging on a wall at the top of the stairs above the gym was a fun exhibit called “Ceramic Hot Air Balloons” made by kindergartners. The display featured hot air balloons made of clay, which appeared to be effortlessly floating amid the clouds. Another interesting ceramic display featured an array of colorful cat sculptures created by kindergartners and first graders in the after-school art program. The adorable animals were inspired by the artwork of popular artist Laurel Burch.
“It was cool because you could see your work and everybody else’s and show your friends,” observed Anoushka Khatri, grade 5.
“It was very nice because you could see everyone’s diversity which showed off through their art!” added Anya Warrier, also grade 5.
Grade 6-8 Students Display Works at Both Middle and Upper School Campuses
The middle school’s annual “Spring Exhibition” went on display in April in the up- per school’s main lobby gallery. Featuring selected art from students in all the middle school grades, the show also displayed culminating works from graduating grade 8 Art II students, which were on view in the adjacent college counseling gallery.
The gallery shows held a joint opening reception on April 10. The main gallery exhibition ran through April 22, while the show in the college counseling office ran through May 1. The two shows then moved to the Blackford campus for the May 6 opening of the combined end-of-the-year exhibit in the multipurpose room.
Sponsored by Harker’s middle school visual arts program, the middle school art shows included colorful paintings, sketches, ceramics, figurines and wire sculptures.
This year, Elizabeth Saltos, middle school visual arts teacher, also hosted a just-for-fun, school- wide “Jackson Pollock” cake eating party during the lunch period on May 15. Pollock was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was well known for his unique style of drip painting.
“I have a video of Pollock working, and we study his role in developing non-objective art. The kids always want to throw paint like he did, so we throw frosting instead,” explained Saltos.
Students who attended the cake party had a blast eating cake and checking out the art on display in the multipurpose room. Saltos said she felt particularly nostalgic about the graduating grade 8 students, whom she will miss teaching next year as they head off to high school. “These students worked with me for three years and really developed their skills,” observed Saltos.
Grade 8 exhibiting artist Anika Rajamani was one such student. Rajamani had taken Saltos’ elective sculpture course as a way to try something new. Standing in front of a Grecian urn she had created,
Rajamani explained that she had always taken illustration art courses before. “This is the first sculpture piece I have ever made,” she said, proudly. “All the vessels on display here were made using the coil technique.”
Meanwhile, her friend and fellow grade 8 student Ria Gupta had created a ceramic fountain that was on exhibit. The fountains were the culminating project of the advanced ceramics course, whereby each student designed a working tabletop water fountain, with no limits to creativity in terms of design. Both slab and wool techniques were utilized in these impressive works.
“After creating the fountain sculpture, we drilled holes and filled it with a water pump,” said Gupta. In the background came the soothing sounds of running water emanating from the prominently displayed fountains.
Upper School Art Show Transformed to ‘Artstravaganza le Deuxième!’
For many years the upper school art show has featured student works from projects created in its rich arts program. This year the event took on an exciting new twist as the upper school’s art and English departments joined forces to host the “Artstravaganza le Deuxième” during a long lunch in the Nichols Hall atrium on April 29.
The well-attended reception began with the sound of The Harker School Jazz Band performing outside the hall at the beginning of lunch. The show also celebrated the recipients of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the release of the Harker Eclectic Literary Magazine (HELM) 2014-15 publication.
A reading in the auditorium featured the Scholastic winners and HELM contributors, as well as awards presented to selected winners for their works of art. Sarisha Kurup, grade 10, a Scholastic regional gold and silver award winner for writing, read an excerpt from one of her short stories.
Fine arts teacher Pilar Agüero-Esparza noted that the Scholastic winners’ reading was a welcome addition to the event. She also said the show was going for a more formal feel this year and noted that it showcased a variety of literary and visual pieces, ranging from poems and short stories to photography, sculptures and drawings.
Sophomore Alexa Gross was a guest speaker. She discussed her thoughts on having her visual pieces included in the exhibit, calling it a “great experience” to be able to showcase her artwork.
After the formal reading and discussion, students proceeded to explore the works on display in the atrium. Among the highlights were photography juxtaposed with narratives, an assortment of wire and wood sculptures, ceramic objects, and numerous illustrations, including still-life and self-portraits.
In February, the AP Studio Art (APSA) exhibit featured a collection of artworks from the largest group of APSA students ever, also in the Nichols atrium. In that show, the artworks of 23 students represented the approximate halfway point of their work on their concentration portfolio for the APSA exam in April.