WHS students draw on inspiration for gallery show on selfies

Exhibit showcasing work done by Donna Calleja's studio art class to open Feb. 4 at Room 83 Spring Gallery

Eva Alessandroni, Raider Times staff

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In Donna Calleja’s studio art class at Watertown High School, students with exceptional abilities are able to take learning into their own hands. This is a class that allows student artists to work at a higher level; thinking about what they want to learn, and figuring out themselves how to learn it. 

Briana Guillory of the Watertown High studio art class poses with her work that will be displayed in the show "Here I Am" at Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown, Mass., from Feb. 4-27, 2016.

Briana Guillory of the Watertown High studio art class poses with her work that will be displayed in the show “Here I Am” at Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown, Mass., from Feb. 4-27, 2016.

“Students get required assignments, and also get to select things they want to work on. It’s more of an individual class, with guidance where needed,” explained Ms. Calleja.  

Through the class, students also learn what it’s like being an artist in this day and age. With that, this year, the students were assigned a special project of getting their art exhibited in the Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown. The exhibit opens Feb. 4.

Ms. Calleja explained how the opportunity came up: “My studio art class started going to the art gallery as a class in 2014/2015. After visiting, the owners, Cathleen Daley and Ellen Wineberg, asked if we would like to plan an exhibit at the gallery.”   

The theme of the upcoming exhibit is “Here I am.”

“How has the self-portrait changed in the age of the ‘selfie’? How has it changed the way society looks at a self portrait?” Ms. Calleja said. 

Art work by Maria Athanasopoulos from the Watertown High studio art class that will be displayed in the show "Here I Am" at Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown, Mass., from Feb. 4-27, 2016.

Art work by Maria Athanasopoulos from the Watertown High studio art class that will be displayed in the show “Here I Am” at Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown, Mass., from Feb. 4-27, 2016.

With that, the students were able to interpret the assignment any way they chose, and create one piece of art for the exhibit, using any materials they wished.

“I painted it with watercolor and acrylic paint, on a regular piece of paper,” said junior Maria Athanasopoulos. “The assignment was to interpret, ‘What is the selfie?’ and people in their own way, drew selfies of themselves, but I thought, on the more darker side, what a selfie doesn’t usually show is how someone acts personality-wise, and how the camera gets their inner personality, and how they look. It’s a selfie of someone who has an inner monster.”

Senior Briana Guillory said, “Mine is just paper, pencil, and Sharpies. I think I thought about the emotions behind the selfie. People want to be seen. They want likes on Instagram and Facebook. They want comments to give them assurance that they look good, or what they did was worthwhile for people to see. They also focus on the emotion behind the comments, that people feel like they have more power when they’re anonymous, so that was my focus of my self portrait. The different usernames are not real, and the comments are something I thought most people would post.”

Senior Noah Prior said, “I kind of took the selfie as a more positive/negative where in 30 seconds, almost anyone can create a picture of themselves and send it out to the world, without showing almost any emotion, or thought, or feeling. So while it’s amazing technology, it’s not something that has  improved communication. 

Noah Prior of the Watertown High studio art class poses with his work that will be displayed in the show "Here I Am" at Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown, Mass., from Feb. 4-27, 2016.

Noah Prior of the Watertown High studio art class poses with his work that will be displayed in the show “Here I Am” at Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown, Mass., from Feb. 4-27, 2016.

“I used canvas and acrylic paints. Those are my eyes. I took a selfie of myself, and drew it lightly. There are a lot of layers, and it took a long time.”

Ms. Calleja said the project theme was picked almost 10 months ago.

“So there’s a lot that goes into something like this, which is also something for the students to learn, things like this doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.

Within the time, the students have attended a critique class with the gallery owners, learned how to interact with the artists to come up with pieces for the exhibit, and had to write an artist statement which helped explain their work better. They’ve had to not only create the piece, but also decide how to display the piece and learn how to do that.

“We’re at the tail end of the project, it’s been really fun and exciting, and it’s been really hard for the students but they’re doing amazing,” said Ms. Calleja. “It’s also practice for practical situations like meeting deadlines, working professionally with the gallery owners, etc.”

(The show will run Feb. 4 through Feb. 27 at Room 83 Spring Gallery in Watertown, Mass., and feature the art of WHS students Liana Aleksanyan, Marvin Aramthip, Maria Athanasopoulos, Zoie Bleau, Dominika Bondaryk, Amanda Cardoso, Karina Franca, Briana Guillory, Julia Harrington, Emily Hart, Kira Peterson, Noah Prior, and Ruby Rosenwasser. For more information, go to http://www.room83spring.com/.)

–Jan. 26, 2016–

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1 Comment

One Response to “WHS students draw on inspiration for gallery show on selfies”

  1. Kerri Lorigan on January 29th, 2016 8:58 am

    Very cool project! I’m deeply fascinated with the written interpretations of the selfie articulated by these artists. I can only look forward to seeing the visuals. I hope that other students are able to participate in this very thoughtful conversation… maybe the show could travel to WMS when it’s run at the Room 83 Spring Gallery has finished?

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