Thomas Jefferson

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Go SpARTans!

Posted 05/03/2022 by Eleanor Benson

A collage of artwork made by Arelly Frias-Esponiza, Rin Payne, Tara Conroy, Blake Duris, Tori Garnica, and Hannah Nelson that will be on display at the showcase! 

Thomas Jefferson’s level four art and ceramics students prepare to have their work showcased on May 4th in the main lobby!

As the school year comes to a close, Thomas Jefferson High School’s academics, athletics, and artistry are being celebrated. One celebration of the work done by TJ artists is the Senior Portfolio Show. Advanced art students have been working tirelessly throughout the school year to produce stunning artwork that demonstrates their unique perspectives as artists. The Senior Portfolio Show is the culmination of these art pieces. The show consists of the work from the level four ceramics class, taught by Lisa Freedberg, and the level four drawing & painting class, taught by Leonard Fox

The artwork at the show will be pieces that surround multiple theses made by each student. A thesis is a statement or inquiry that must be discussed or responded to within the artwork. For illustrations, the students must present three different pieces associated with each theme. In level four art classes, the guidelines are less rigid than those of an AP Art class, allowing students to explore many theses. According to Fox, this type of project is beneficial because it “makes [the students] dive into a concept on an intellectual level and then transform that understanding into a visual message.” Freedberg expanded on this sentiment when she discussed how “[she] has seen [the students] challenge themselves and has pushed them to try something they haven’t done.” 

The challenging nature of the projects has been somewhat reflected in the students’ experiences while making their artwork. “It was definitely a mixture of emotions. It was a lot of hard work and stress, but sometimes you would just be sitting there making another stroke and another stroke which was nice,” explained Rin Payne, a senior in Fox’s level four class. While the stress sounds, well, stressful, senior Blake Duris described the emotions as “chaotic but in a good way, where you’re just going along while making new things and creating new ideas.” Ultimately, the students’ pieces were formed around the experiences of making them. As with many creative expectations, an assorted package of emotions helps fuel the artist and their art. 

Within the lower-level art classes, students are given a prompt to create a piece. Though this allows for creative freedom, the focus on skills rather than themes can sometimes limit the students’ independence. However, in level four, the project’s focus on theses and themes has allowed the students to express themselves through their art. When discussing her personality within her artwork, senior Arelly Frias-Espinoza said that “they just show a little bit of what I do or how I see things.” The themes of the artwork can even expand to specific places and hobbies; this is the case for senior Tara Conroy. “My pieces are all based on national parks and national services. Personally, I feel at one with nature,” she said while discussing how her passions have impacted her art.

The artwork can also have important messages for the audience. Payne discusses how she wants the viewer to understand how “art is so much more than beauty, it can be uncomfortable to look at.” For Frias-Espinoza, she wants the audience “to have fun with whatever [they] want to do. You don’t always have to stick with one thing.” This universal creative ability is echoed by Duris when he stated, “anyone can do what I do if they want to. If you like anything creative, you just have to put your soul into it.” However, messages do not always focus on the effects of art or creativity on the person. For Conroy, she wanted the onlookers to understand that “the earth we live on isn’t ours, we are living with it. We have to protect areas that need to be protected.” With all these messages unique to the artist, the showcase will be a magnificent display of the artist’s dedication to their work. 

The Spartan art world is thriving. The Senior Portfolio Showcase is just one example of the blossoming of the creatives. Remember that the showcase is on May 4th in the main lobby from 5 pm to 6 pm. So, after a year of hard work and four years of contribution to the art community, make sure to support your senior artists TJ!