GHCHS spring art show provides a platform for budding artists

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The first Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) Spring Art Show is taking place in Highlander Hall from Monday, March 23 to Thursday, March 26.  Work from students in the Visual Arts and Performing Arts (VAPA) classes, such as choir, ceramics, music, animation, drawing, dance, theater, imaging, and film will have work on displayall week for viewing.

Artwork can be seen hung on the walls and boards in Highlander Hall while performances from the various music, dance, and theatergroups have been performed on stage. Attendees are encouraged to mill around the auditorium, viewing the art, and also enjoy the performances simultaneously happening on on stage.  Culminating on the night of Granada’s Open House on March 26, the GHCHS Spring Art Show is an opportunity for students to share their artwork not only with their peers, but their families and the Granada Hills community as well.

“It was really important to our department this year.  We’re having so much success individually, like choir just received a superior at a festival we went to, band is doing great, orchestra, all the visual arts classes are producing such high quality art, that we really wanted to come together as a department, and display that, not only to Granada, and the students at Granada and the faculty, but also to the community of Granada Hills,” choir, AP music theory, and keyboards teacher Sarah White said.

White was a part of a concentrated effort of many of the VAPA teachers here at Granada to create an art show on campus that the teachers felt could properly display the work of all of the VAPA students.  In the past, art shows have been held on campus, however they lacked enough space and resources, and the goal was to find a larger venue to host an art show.  Now by holding the show in Highlander Hall and purchasing the walls from which to hang the artwork on, the opportunity to hold the first ever GHCHS Spring Art Show came about.

“One of the great benefits of this is to provide a venue for the students’ work to be displayed, and also to give motivation to the students to really be in the show and have their work out, people could see it, and we think that’s a real positive thing,” advanced and AP drawing, AP 2-D design, and IB visual arts teacher Harvey Cusworth said.

With a couple hundred pieces hanging in Highlander Hall, students were given the opportunity to showcase the artwork they have been working on throughout the year.  Students chose pieces for the show and got them matted for display.  Not only can attendees view the drawings, digital imaging art, and paintings that hang from the walls, but there are computers with headphones set up to view the film projects students have been working on as well.

One student’s artwork that is on display is senior Tami Lee.  Lee hopes to be a kindergarten teacher in the future, but enjoys creating art as a hobby.  Her desire to be a teacher stems from her love for children, which is clear in one of her paintings titled, “Not What It Seems.”  The piece features a young boy she has come to know through her community service, and serves as a statement on how we often misjudge children.

“We kind of overgeneralize children. I think we all assume that they don’t know much, that they’re just little so they won’t understand.  But they’re kind of creative and crazy, and that innocence is what draws people to children,” Lee said.  “I just wanted to point out that although children seem ignorant and innocent, and people may think that [children] don’t know much, but they actually do, and they’re really intelligent.”

Another student at Granada, senior Lauren Simon, attempted to emulate the style of one artist in particular in her pieces, Austrian expressionist Oskar Kokoschka.

“What inspired me in his artwork was his usage of thick paints and how he used very bold colors. In particular, in most of his paintings he uses very awkward structures, especially when painting hands, and I wanted to take that and put it in my own art,” Simon said.  “You can notice that I use weird colors, especially when painting hands, and there’s a trilogy of just hands… just to explore the body and try and relate it to Oskar Kokoschka’s style.”

Simon was grateful for the opportunity to have her art shown, and stressed that in high school it’s often difficult to get the community to come support your art, and high school artists have to go out of their way entering contests to get any form of recognition.  The GHCHS Spring Art Show gives young artists an opportunity to get their hard work recognized and that sense of empowerment is influential in a young artist’s growth.

Not only were serious pieces shown at the exhibit, but lighthearted ones as well, from the a capella group, Smooth White Chocolate’s humorous rendition of Harry Belafonte’s song, “Matilda,” to music videos and commercials for a fake ghost repellant that the film class had produced.  The variety of the pieces and performances showcased the VAPA program’s breadth here at Granada, and both past alumni and teachers who attended the show were proud of how the program has progressed.

Craig Gruenberg previously taught at GHCHS for close to 15 years, teaching choir, guitar classes, AP music theory, and some of the music technology classes.  Gruenberg came to the show accompanying the choir on the piano. Not only was it enjoyable for Gruenberg to see past students, but he was happy with the show as well.

“In terms of the VAPA program there has always been a lot of support here at Granada.  This is a great event, having all the artists and great artwork, so I really like how this is arranged.  Always before, the concerts were a little long, because we had all the groups.  This year, it gives everyone a chance to play and not be here so late,” Gruenberg said.

Not only was the GHCHS Spring Art Show a great opportunity for the young artists and community members, but it surprised some of the teachers as well.

“I think my favorite moment was actually, a couple of my students who are in choir, I didn’t know that they were in visual arts classes, and they were super excited that their artwork got chosen to be displayed.  So not only were they having the opportunity to perform, and do what I know they do artistically, but also in addition their visual art was being displayed, which was really cool,” White said.

The show ends tonight with a variety of performances from jazz band, dance team, orchestra, choir, scenes from the musical “Urinetown,” and much more.  Come see that what the growing VAPA program here at Granada has to offer.

—Tessa Weinberg

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Find out who is playing tonight at the GHCHS Spring Art Show:

The schedule of performances for the 2015 GHCHS Spring Art Show.

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