Publicizing Creativity In School


The popularity of visual art has decreased within the past few decades; the attendance rates of fine art events have declined as well, as stated by Forbes Magazine. “. . .Only 33% of Americans attended a benchmark cultural event even once in 2012—down from 39% in 2002 and 41% in 1992.” West Park High School reflects this trend, where students might not care as much for visual art as they may have in the past. For the art teachers and students at West Park that want their art to be more appreciated, this can be discouraging. 

Currently, student artwork has been showcased through the halls in some of the West Park buildings, including the admin building and the gym but students often walk past the art due to the fact that they may be in a rush or that they simply don’t care. For the students and staff who do pause to admire, it may usually occur in between classes, which only allow a short period of time for them to admire the work.

Yet student art could be represented in a bigger way so the people who are interested can appreciate it fully. Some students suggested, bringing in art competitions could be a way for artists to show their work in a more interesting way. Students don’t have to be in art class in order to participate and this can be a method to get more of the school involved. Art galleries are positive ways in order to bring more attention to a big group of artwork. It can introduce the pieces to the people who are interested in viewing visual arts.

“I know they are eventually going to build a new building in front of the campus that will be kind of more arts, so I wanna be an advocate for getting a gallery space there,” said West Park art teacher Ali Bowman when discussing different ways to showcase art. In hopes to get a gallery area, she hopes to establish a permanent place where students and staff can come in and view art throughout the year.

As the new buildings are under construction, a temporary solution could be reaching bigger platforms such as Panther News. With this type of showcasing, it can give multiple students the opportunity to show the pieces they’ve been working on to a wider range of people. Every week, Panther News can talk about a different art class and showcase art from selected students. This can be a chance for artists to have more of their work featured in a more public way, and to have it noticed by students and staff around the school.

“. . . Even if it’s for a short period of time, I think displaying art in such a way can be helpful. And it would be cool to see, especially for people who are interested in [art],” an anonymous student said. As well as being able to publicize different artworks, students would also be able to use their creativity to highlight their identity.

The creative process brings a student’s personality to life, amplifying their imagination on a piece of paper or a blank canvas and giving others a glimpse as to who they are as a person.

“I think that it’s slowly starting to show the diversity of the student body which was fascinating to see and it makes my day more interesting to learn more [about the students],” Mrs. Bowman said. Students and staff are able to speak and show their cultures and history in a form other than words.

Pieces of artwork can tell important stories about the person, such as that of Kelly Lawson, a junior at West Park High School, who is currently taking art 2 with Mrs. Bowman believes that “art reveals how people feel mentally and emotionally (sometimes), and shows how they desire to express themselves.” 

As described by Mrs. Bowman and her friends, Lawson is known to be an extremely hardworking artist who spends her time in class dedicated to every detail that she puts into her work. She shows her dedication and originality in a recent project depicting a haunted house.

Currently, her class is focusing on the concept of architecture and bringing out the values that form to create a building and to ways to incorporate Halloween elements in order to make it look spooky.

Lawson’s art inspiration comes from her interests and the ideas that she obtains from reading, conversations with her friends, or the media in which she considers to constantly be shown through her creative process. For this assignment in particular, Lawson says that she wanted to make her haunted house look less scary and more fun. This was in order to still stay true to her art, which often conveyed a friendly feeling.

Displaying art can give artists like Kelly Lawson an opportunity to get admiration from aspiring creators and other interested viewers. Along with that, exposure to art can give so many overlooked benefits. Visual art pieces are considered to have a positive effect on a person’s mental health. 

According to The University of Arizona’s, studying a person’s art allows the viewer’s brain to pick at the shapes and the colors the artist uses. With the thought of simple images, it allows the brain easier to process than that of numbers and words, leading to a feeling of calmness. When looking at art, people get a sense of relaxation that they might struggle to find within their other subjects.

Furthermore, processing visual artwork sparks imagination. Art is a form of expression that shows something other artists may not have seen before. The questions and the thoughts behind analyzing art influences other designers to create their own work based on those interpretations. 

Mrs. Bowman expresses how art can be considered a creative outlet for students to express themselves in a beneficial way while taking away stress at the same time. Lawson shared how art has contributed to helping her with her mental health. “…I gain comfort from drawing characters I’ve created and know from memory how to draw, and it distracts me when my anxiety rises.”

Different forms of art are commonly incorporated in a person’s life such as literature and cinema; but people can bring visual art into their life whether that can be interpreted into painting or creating simple doodles on paper as well.

Going to craft and artisan fairs, local museums or galleries, or even taking up photography are ways people can incorporate art into their lives and potentially to learn a new skill. On an everyday basis, people can learn how to paint or incorporate art by doodling in their free time. 

“A person doesn’t have to be good at art in order for them to enjoy it,” Bowman explained. “That’s the beauty of it. I’m hoping I’m giving [my students] the technical skill so that [they] can take the creative part of it and do what [they] want.”