Onward through the pandemic, art students display inspiring work

Sofia Oyarzún, co-images editor

Black stick figures with different colored heads fill a large canvas on display at the National  Art Honors Society (NAHS) Art Show in the main office gallery. This not only represents the common differences a community shares, but also the different interpretations NAHS members had of the overarching theme, Onward, senior Alex Yunda-Raijer, vice president of NAHS, explained.

The NAHS Art Show puts members’ dedication, creativity, and hard work on display for the South community. This year’s theme, Onward, was to inspire, not limit the students’ work, Yunda-Raijer explained.

“[The board and I] gave little buzz-words to all of the members, like ‘metamorphosis’, ‘movement’, and ‘growth’, amongst others,” Yunda-Raijer said. “We give people the theme, and we say, ‘Make whatever you want. Any medium, any size, we will take it and put it in the show.’”

The theme of the show changes every year, and after a year of unprecedented circumstances, the NAHS student board decided to use that to their artistic advantage. Stephanie Fuja, art teacher and sponsor of NAHS, explained the thoughts and collaboration that went into establishing the theme.

“The theme is supposed to represent moving on from this pandemic,” Fuja said. “Moving on from the struggles and turmoil that a lot of kids and people went through during that time, and just looking onward.”

The art students took the “buzz-words” given to everyone and created a meaning of their own. This theme allowed creative freedom in designing their pieces, according to senior Othandiwe Ngubane.

“I wanted to focus on one of the subcategories, metamorphosis,” Ngubane explained. “As a kid, you have your baby teeth, and they fall [out] and change as you grow up, so I wanted to kind of do a play on that. [I created] a portrait of my younger brother with wings drawn onto his two front teeth.”

Yunda-Raijer also took advantage of the creative liberty and changed his artistic approach, incorporating a new art form, painting, into his practice.

“ [This project has] taught me that it’s okay to have a loose structure when it comes to creating, as opposed to a really structured idea of what you want the outcome to be,” Yunda-Raijer said. “It’s okay to go into it and not have any idea what you’re doing or what the end product is going to be.”

In his piece, Yunda-Raijer took the opportunity to express the sense of loneliness the pandemic has caused for the world, especially students, while also putting a positive twist on the concept.

“The piece was about loneliness and feeling lonely even when you’re surrounded by so many people.” Yunda-Raijer said. “But continuing with the Onward theme, it was about community – painting a diverse community in the world.”

This experience has changed the perspectives of students, Ngubane said. Different interpretations of the same theme have brought clarity to their own attempts, they explained.

“It kind of changed how I see interpretation, because it’s always been a very vast category, but seeing each approach [was] really interesting,” Ngubane said. “[I loved] to see how each person’s brain works, and how they’re able to use their creativity for this topic even though it’s so broad.”