New setting, new art: annual CSL Art Exhibition showcases student art in a fresh format

Ivette Dimitrova and Jame Sewell

In previous years, inspiring paintings, creative drawings, unique photographs and more lined the walls of The Art Center Highland Park for the Central Suburban League (CSL) art show. Now, new restrictions are in place for this year’s show. Following the Covid-19 guidelines, instead of displaying the art at the gallery, the pieces will be presented on Zoom, according to Stephanie Fuja, art teacher and National Art Honors Society (NAHS) sponsor. 

Throughout the years, teachers from every school participating in the CSL art show have chosen 40 extraordinary pieces of work made by their students to be showcased in the gallery. Students spend all year preparing their works with the hope of being selected. Fuja explained how she tends to be very specific in what she looks for when choosing her picks.

“Each [teacher] looks for different things, but I personally look at everything,” Fuja explained. “I look for the effort the student puts in throughout the year, not just the quality of the artwork. [I look to see if] it is a really good piece of work and that they have tried. Are they really invested in art? Did they really put in the effort? How important is art to them?”

Being a lively annual celebration of art for everyone who participates, senior Margarita Kazak, AP art student, explained her experience at the gallery during her sophomore year. It offers inspiration to the students, families and teachers present, according to Kazak. 

“To see the show in person was amazing,” Kazak said. “Just that whole building entirely dedicated to works of art by other high school students. I felt really honored to have my piece there among these great artworks. Seeing everyone so excited and people walking around and taking pictures, you really felt the ‘wow’.” 

Since the gathering has been drastically changed, many people are disappointed with the art show’s new format, explained Amie Elliott, South art teacher and AP art sponsor. However, despite the changes, Elliott believes that the unusual challenges presented during the year have resulted in a lot of great pieces.  

“It’s a completely new setting for students and it will definitely not be the same experience, as it has been in other years,” Elliott says. “I think that each student worked really hard on their piece, which showed me that they still cared about their work.” 

However, online learning continues to impact the participants, teachers and families involved, even through this virtual format. Senior Alison Sedenkov, AP art student, feels that her art experience this year has been valuable for her.

“The atmosphere [in class this year] is great,” Sedenkov says. “It’s such a fun class and it’s not like any other class you could possibly take at South. It’s a really good time to be able to do something that you enjoy and take a step back from the rigor of your other classes.”