Van Goghing the extra mile

Art: the simplest and yet most complex form of human expression. Through the preconceived motion of a hand, artists can invoke feelings of sadness, nostalgia or just plain happiness onto a viewer. From the Renaissance art of Michelangelo to the somewhat confusing abstract paintings of Mark Rothko, art is a focal part of society that one can’t do without.

The school offers a myriad of art courses including Drawing, Painting, Computer Graphics and Photography: all of which are varying levels. The art hallway is filled to the brim with joyful, melancholy or introspective displays. Take a quick search through or on Instagram and one will find aspiring senior artist Samantha Lee’s work.

From a young age Lee spent her time drawing cartoon characters and creating her own. Lessons of famous artist soon captured Lee’s attention in school and the classroom that hosted elementary finger paintings is what would eventually foster Lee’s love for art.

“I was always excited to make something in art class and even more excited to use what I learned to explore my creativity,” Lee said.

Photo credits by Walt Campbell

Since then Lee has become president of the Art Club and National Arts Honors Society. Both groups put on the spring arts festival that includes art of all levels and mediums, the chalk walk, food trucks, and presenting new art on the art wall of fame. Work like this concreted Lee’s path in an art career.

“I have always loved art and the freedom that comes with expressing myself visually so studying art and improving my technique was a natural choice for me. It was really in middle school when I realized how important art and design was in everyday life,” Lee said.

The value of art, as a career choice and in general, has been under scrutiny. Many schools have defunded art programs and have sometimes gone as far as cutting them. In addition, the road for graduating artists is uncertain and many struggle to get jobs; reinforcing the popular “starving artist” narrative.

“I think the perception of creative careers being an unstable professional path can be accurate, as art is competitive and requires a lot of self discipline. It is important to remember, however, that there is more to art than becoming a “painter” or “starving artist.”” Lee said.

Aside from financial issues and job availability, numerous young artists have difficulty finding their own original style and voice against a flood of critics. Many are also tempted to compare themselves to other artists. It’s support from others and having self confidence in one’s own art that keep artists persisting, according to Lee.

“Sam’s art can express emotion on all levels and I love her cartoonist realism style. People should definitely take some time to look at her pieces,” Junior and friend of Lee, Esha Thaker said.

These facts haven’t discouraged would-be artists, Lee included. She is currently working on expanding her horizons and exploring illustrative projects. Enamel pins, custom shirts,children books and possibly a school mural are future projects.

“I create art because it is my most natural form of expression. Others should value art because it is everywhere; from visual art, design, and architecture to film, music, expressive writing, and poetry, art has a significant impact on our culture and method of expression. To appreciate art is to appreciate anything that is crafted with passion and care,” Lee said.


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