Festival of the Arts: Beyond academics and athletics

Ella Kharrazi and Sabrina Kizer

Stepping into the small gym, a new side of Redwood, beyond academics and athletics, is unveiled. The week of May 22 marked the first annual Festival of the Arts, where students in both visual and performing arts showcased their work. The festival was open to the public on May 25 from 5-7 p.m., but throughout the entirety of the week, students and teachers were able to visit the exhibit.

Art teachers Susanne Maxwell and Lauren Bartone, in collaboration with the other art teachers, Principal Barnaby Payne and the P.E. department, organized the event. Bartone stated that this is an opportunity for art students to display work that may otherwise go unnoticed and unappreciated by the community.

“I think especially for the visual arts, [the students’] creativity and accomplishments can be kind of invisible to the public. Like if you’re in an art class and you’re sitting next to a kid who’s doing some incredible work, you see it, but maybe nobody else in the world will ever see it. So, we wanted to create an audience for that kind of creativity,” Bartone said.

Maxwell echoed Bartone’s message, expressing that she hoped to give art students a voice. 

“We want to celebrate creativity. We want to celebrate the students here at Redwood and show the rest of you how amazing they are. … There’s only so many spaces where we can have students be seen and heard. So this is that,” Maxwell said.

Students from all grades and levels of art classes had the opportunity to display their art in the festival. Senior and Advanced Placement (AP) Art student Delia Pickart showcased one piece, a “holy cow.” Made using one of her favorite modes of drawing, oil pastel, Pickart’s work was part of her AP “sustained investigation” and theme of her portfolio.

“Ms. Bartone kind of pointed me in the direction of doing trickster animals, like from folklore …. And then I kind of took that and after a couple pieces, evolved it further into phrases about animals and idioms,” Pickart said. “I was just doing a play on words, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, holy cow.’ I want to take a comedic approach with the stuff I am doing.”

Pickart’s unique concentration is just one example of the imaginative concepts students expressed. Bartone reflected on this aspect of teaching an art class.

“It’s never boring. You never know what ideas students are going to come up with and what is going to wind up being made each year in your classes. It’s impossible to predict, and that makes it really exciting,” Bartone said.

Maxwell already noticed the eagerness in students for next year’s Festival of the Arts.

“What makes me happy is listening to the kids be super excited to see their work up and also listening to the kids say things like, ‘Next year I’m going to do dot, dot, dot.’ They’re already projecting out how they want to contribute in the future to this, so mission accomplished,” Maxwell said.