The National Art Honor Society (NAHS) art gallery, with over 50 pieces crafted by students, lacks the fascinated viewers who frequented it last year. The only people left to see the artwork in person are the few staff members who remain in the building.
For those who cannot see the gallery in person, the art teachers created a video and slideshow, which pales in comparison to the real thing, explained Stephanie Fuja, art teacher and NAHS sponsor.
“[Viewers] just don’t get to have the same experience seeing it online, or in a photo, versus seeing the real deal,” Fuja said.
Senior Janin Liu, co-president of NAHS, explained that this year’s unique circumstances were not ideal for the gallery, but NAHS members tried to keep the video slideshow as authentic as possible.
“The virtual video definitely gives a different dimension to the gallery show,” Liu said. “We tried our best to make it look like you were walking through the show in person because you can see the pieces through the slideshow. [It’s not the same as] walking through the gallery and seeing the layout of the actual show and how the path leads you to see each piece.”
Liu created a sculpture for the gallery that highlights the positive aspects of 2020, including the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ Pride and koalas’ rescue during the Australian wildfires. Her piece goes along with the theme the student leaders chose for this year’s gallery: Compassion.
“Because 2020 has been a ‘bad’ year, with many negative aspects, we wanted to put a positive portrayal on humanity and therefore, compassion,” Liu said.
Other pieces in the gallery include a black-and-white sketch of a pair of laughing people in front of a brightly colored background that reads “KIND PEOPLE,” drawn by senior Hannah Franklin, member of NAHS.
“I wanted to show that compassion can be between anyone, so two friends talking and laughing shows how just that one interaction is a form of compassion,” Franklin said.
Franklin recognized how much this year represents compassion, even with all the negativity attributed to 2020. She said that with everything that has been going on, finding the light in dark times has created a sense of gratitude.
“There’s a lot of negativity in 2020, but it can make it easier for you to see the acts of compassion,” Franklin said. “I think that the pandemic has really brought out a lot of darkness, but also a lot of good in people.”
In addition to spreading compassion in the community, this year has also given many artists at South the opportunity to discover what art means to them, Liu explained.
“I think it was very valuable that we were able to use compassion as our theme this year, as we’re able to get more people to think about what’s really important, which is our connection with other people,” Liu said.
Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, Fuja applauds the NAHS students for making it possible for people to view these art pieces that they worked so hard on.
“I am really proud of the fact that we got this gallery put together, both virtual and in-person,” Fuja said. “I mean, that was pretty amazing. I think it was really cool to celebrate the hard work that these kids put in.”