This article originally appeared in the summer 2014 Harker Quarterly.
Come spring, the entire Harker community celebrates and admires the artistic talent of our students – from the youngest child at Harker Preschool to the oldest student at the upper school. Various art shows are held each spring highlighting works as unique as their creators. This year, creativity flourished in a range of artistic media on exhibit at all four campuses. Join us in this year-end reflection, as we look back at the very best of art at Harker!
AP Art Studio Classes Exhibit Works
by Zach Jones
Advanced art students showcased their work at the AP Studio Art Exhibit in late February. The show featured both 2-D and 3-D works, with each piece accompanied by a written statement summarizing the theme.
Senior Manon Audebert’s series of sculptures explored the concept of tension and how it interacts with various materials, providing a visual metaphor for the conflicts experienced in everyday life. One such piece had lengths of string and wooden sticks poking through holes of paper, which appeared coiled, as though ready to pounce or strike. Another of Audebert’s works showed strings tugging at pieces of cloth, threatening to tear them at any moment.
Elsewhere, senior Kianna Bisla’s series of photographs underscored the beauty of scenes normally taken for granted, capturing haunting images she discovered while traversing the Bay Area, including alleyways, suburban decay and creative works left on the public landscape by self-styled artists. One of her more evocative photos showed a boarded-up building, tagged by passersby and slowly succumbing to the elements, with cameras drawn in graffiti along with the message “Thank you!” as though anticipating Bisla’s arrival and offering gratitude in advance.
The AP Studio Art Exhibit is held every year to highlight the works of the high-level AP Studio Art classes taught by 3-D art teacher Jaap Bongers and 2-D art teacher Pilar Agüero- Esparza. The event was held in the spacious Nichols Hall atrium, where attendees enjoyed snacks and refreshments while viewing the artwork, enjoying an atmosphere much like a professional gallery show. Bongers’ birthday fell on the day of the exhibition, so students sang “Happy Birthday” and brought out a cake to commemorate the occasion.
Eclectic Middle School Art Show Opens at Upper School, Moves to Blackford Campus
by Debbie Cohen
Harker’s middle school spring art exhibit went on display in the upper school’s main lobby gallery after an opening reception on April 3. The show, which ran until April 23, also spilled over to the Nichols Hall atrium.
Sponsored by Harker’s middle school visual arts program, the exhibit featured select works from the school year, including colorful paintings, sketches, ceramics and wire sculptures.
Students in grades 7-8 showcased clay and glass works called “African Granary Doors.” Whimsical wire sculpture figures with accessories such as umbrellas, golf sticks and building blocks also filled the shelves. Grade 6 ceramics students displayed work done during the fall semester titled “Art Shoes,” which took the form of dinosaurs, rabbits, dragons and more. And drawings of bikes, colorful landscapes, and assorted fruits and vegetables adorned the walls.
Encased in a glass display were several sculptures that had won regional Scholastic Art Awards earlier this year. Eight Harker middle school students won the prestigious awards for their outstanding artwork. Two received the coveted gold and silver key awards, while six others were lauded with honorable mentions. All of the winners’ work was featured in the exhibit.
Meanwhile, a series of drawings called “Renaissance Self-Portraits” was on display in Nichols Hall. For this project, second-year middle school art students were asked to do a self-portrait of what they will look like at age 50, and at the same time put themselves in the time of the Renaissance.
To accomplish this feat, they studied Rembrandt’s self-portraits and followed that period and style as closely as possible.
“Scrolling through photos of Renaissance poses and portraits, I found a picture of a man with flowing, curly hair very interesting. Incorporating my cheerful countenance into the body of a royal ancient figure was extremely difficult, but weeks of sketching self-portraits eventually paid off to help accomplish this piece,” recalled art student Darren Gu, grade 8.
Kaitlin Hsu, also grade 8, said that for her Renaissance portrait, she chose to draw herself as a young maiden who “probably lived the life of a servant.” Drawing this portrait, she noted, was fun and interesting since the clothing, accessories, and style at the time were very unique and distinct. “Using various materials to finish this portrait was fun,” she added.
Also in the atrium were drawings from first-year art students, including illustrations of Audubon birds and sketches of rocking chairs. The drawings were done in the Italian artistic style of chiaroscuro, which utilizes strong contrasts between light and dark (similar effects in cinema and photography also are called chiaroscuro).
The middle school art show was unique in that it hosted its opening reception at the upper school. After a brief run there, the exhibit was relocated to the middle school multipurpose room where it joined the middle school’s end-of-the-year art exhibit. The middle school campus’ exhibit was all-inclusive, ran for about a month, and had its own opening reception.
Lower School Art Show Celebrates Creative Work of Entire Campus
by Debbie Cohen
Hanging paper lanterns blew gently in the breeze as the lower school’s gymnasium doors swung open on April 28, kicking off the campus’ much-anticipated art show. The annual exhibition, which began that afternoon with a well-attended reception in the gym’s foyer, ran until May 21. It featured selected academic and after-school works of K-5 students.
Refreshments were served in the main gallery (the gym lobby) as exhibiting students once again demonstrated an impressive range of artistic abilities. Artwork on display included monochromatic pencil drawings, watercolor paintings, collages and ceramics.
There was an interactive feel to this year’s show, which wound its way from the lobby into the gym, up the stairs and all the way to the top-floor classrooms – even extending into the kitchens and art rooms. Parents, faculty members and students slowly meandered through the event, viewing the wonderfully artistic and often whimsical pieces, which were arranged by theme and grade level.
“The art show was a great success. We had many parents and students come by not only to find their own personal pieces, but to also view the wide selection on show. We even had a family who had gone home to get ‘dressed up’ for the event; it was very sweet,” recalled Gerry-louise Robinson, Harker’s lower school art teacher.
“The highlight for me was the vibrancy and color that was in the displays, with first grade work displayed comfortably next to fifth grade work. We also had a wonderful display highlighting the Japanese wood coasters which were made during a visit from Maruko, the Japanese exchange teacher from Tamagawa this year,” she continued.
Back in the winter, Maruko Ishigami, an art teacher from Tamagawa Academy (K-12) School & University – Harker’s sister school in Tokyo, Japan – helped teach art classes for grades 2-5, showing the second and third graders how to make traditional Japanese wood coasters and instructing the fourth and fifth graders in various painting techniques used in her country.
Grade 2 students Emi Fujimura, Shayla He and Shareen Chahal agreed that the best thing about making the wood coasters was “building it” from scratch, noting that the process reminded them of putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Classmate Vivek Nayyar said he especially enjoyed having a “visiting teacher” come to the classroom.
Another highlight of the art showw was the collection of winter-themed illustrations, with pictures of trees drawn in black against a sky-blue backdrop, amid delicately falling white snowflakes. Among the various drawings were “Winter Trees,” from the after-school art program, using watercolor and white pencil; “Worm View Winter Trees,” made by students in grade 5 using construction paper and tempura paint; and “Camouflage Winter Scene,” by grade 4 students working with colored pencils.
The colors of many other illustrations took on a decidedly playful theme, such as the charming, colorful penguins clad in scarves called “Chilly Penguins” made by kindergartners. These were made of construction paper collage. Brightly drawn fall pumpkin scenes were also a big hit with various grade levels, including kindergartners, and first and third graders.
Particularly unique to the show was an exhibit called “Perched Owls” from the kindergartners, which comprised glazed ceramic owls sitting in rows perched atop the branches of a tree made out of construction paper. Meanwhile, at a display table nearby, grade 4 students showcased pencil drawings titled “Monochromatic Castles” as well as sculpted versions (made out of ceramic, glaze and mixed media) simply called “Castles.”
According to Anoushka Khatri, grade 4, the best thing about the art show was the chance it gives you to not only see your work represented, but all your friends’ work, too.”
Nathan Wang, grade 5, agreed. “Everybody has at least one thing in the art show,” he added.
Wang’s classmate, Alex Baeckler, said she had actually made an art piece that was intended to be a surprise for her dad on Father’s Day, but had to let the cat out of the bag when he happened upon it during the art show. “He was still really surprised and happy to see it … and I’m still going to give it to him after the show!” she said, smiling proudly.
“The students really demonstrated their talents and creativity. What amazing students we have!” enthused Robinson.
Upper School Artwork Featured, Appraised at Art Show
by Zach Jones
The upper school art show featured student works from all parts of the upper school arts program, many of them winners in this year’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The juror for this year’s show was Stephanie Metz, an accomplished Bay Area-based artist who has held exhibitions at both the San Francisco and New York branches of the Hosfelt Gallery, as well as the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art.
Nephele Troullinos, grade 11, was awarded best in show for her printmaking piece “Tahoe Color,” which Metz said was “balanced and iconic, but also uses the medium and techniques of printmaking to the best advantage.”
First place in painting/printmaking went to Doreene Kang, grade 10, for her painting “Workroom,” which depicts a fashion designer in his studio. Winning second place in this category was Anna Kendall, grade 12, whose striking acrylic painting prompted Metz to describe it as “gestural but controlled – the colors fight and also play well together.”
Archana Podury, grade 11, won first place in drawing/mixed media for her ballpoint pen drawing, a vortex of spring-like objects fittingly titled “Coiled.” Second place went to senior Jerry Shen’s thoughtprovoking “Tree of Knowledge,” which featured a man in a suit with a box on his head upon which a tree has taken root.
In the sculpture category, Manon Audebert, grade 12, was awarded first place for a piece exploring the concept of tension by showing strings suspending a cloth by pulling it in opposite directions. Another Audebert piece, a separate study in tension showing sheets of metal bent to various degrees, took second place in this category.
Junior Madelyn Wang’s moody photograph of trees and buildings taken through a window covered in condensation earned her first place in the photography category, while Melina Nakos, grade 10, took second place for her photograph of a ballerina, which Metz praised for its “lonely composition and sense of motion.”
Eric Wang, grade 11, was a two-time winner in ceramics: “Birdhouse,” in which a scaly green cube clasped by a mouth-like appendage won first place, and “Abstraction Exercise,” an intriguing interaction of sharp edges, colors and black, won second.
Finally, Chloe van den Dries, grade 10, and Megan Prakash, grade 12, won first and second, respectively, in the graphic arts/digital category.
Harker Preschool Holds Inaugural Art Show on Grandparents’ Day
by Debbie Cohen
The students at Harker Preschool used Grandparents’ Day as a special occasion to hold their very first art show. Along with works made in the art studio throughout the school year, grandparents were the first to view a collection of canvas paintings that the preschoolers completed as part of an end-of-the-year art concepts review.
Grandparents’ Day, held each May, is already a long-standing tradition at Harker’s lower school. Now, preschoolers have joined in the tradition, welcoming their grandparents, special adult friends or “adoptive” grandparents-for-the-day to visit the school for a morning of exploration and play, including a captivating stop at the art exhibit.
“Grandparents’ Day was a huge hit! The event served as an opportunity for our fabulous teachers and specialists to showcase their work from this year and the strong bonds that they have developed with the preschoolers,” said Alexandria Kerekez, Harker Preschool’s art specialist.
Kerekez added that near the event’s gallery, which was “filled to the brim with artwork,” there was a table reserved for children to join her in sharing bead-making techniques with their grandparents. Participants also had the opportunity to join the preschool’s music and movement teacher in a song. Meanwhile, the school’s STEM specialist opened up the farm for the children to enjoy delicious edible plants and play with snuggly bunnies.
According to Kerekez, 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. 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.
Making ceramics is a favorite art activity for 4-year-old Ameera Ramzan, who, earlier in the year, had worked on making a “pinch pot.” Sounding very much like an art teacher herself, she proudly explained that to create the pot you “first roll the ball … and then you pinch it!”
Back in January and February, Kerekez hung a more informal exhibit in a room just off the preschool lobby called “The Faces of Harker Preschool.” Included in that self-portrait display were works by all of the preschool’s children – from the Pebble, Clover, Acorn and Feather cottages to the transitional kindergarten crew.
That exhibit and the Grandparents’ Day art show were so successful that Kerekez said she hopes to make them annual events.