Story and Interview by Sarah Johansson
On the 24th of February, the Grade 12 IB Visual Arts class had their first and final grand exhibition, accumulating 2 years of work into a single night. The mingling livened up the old buildings of the school whilst the emotional responses to the pieces of art that dressed the walls illuminated the evening. The following interviews were carried out by Sarah Johansson to get a better insight into what this evening meant to some of the artists involved. Thank you to Caitlyn Parish, Kieran Kielthy, Ivy Huang, and Amy Huang, for your contributions to this piece.
What was your favourite part of the exhibition?
Caitlyn Parish, G12:
I really enjoyed seeing the whole class’ artworks together, because you could see the relief and sense of accomplishment in everyone’s faces. We had finally done it, we finished the IB Visual Arts class, and we came out the other end exhausted but happy and proud.
Kieran Keilthy, Grade 12:
My favourite part was to actually show my art to the community around me. I am usually a very private person, particularly when it comes to my art, and this was an opportunity for me to kind of step out of that comfort zone in a space where my art was not being judged, but rather celebrated. These were pieces I was really proud of, that I had put time and effort and heart into creating. It was really a boost of confidence for me and I appreciate that I was able to experience this after all the hard work I put in.
Amy Huang, G12:
The exhibition gave us a chance to show our artwork and listen to the audience’s response. This helped us in understanding what audience’s like and the differences between our own and the audience’s ideas. It gave us a chance to think and talk about aspects and dimensions of even our own work that we hadn’t even realised existed.
Was there a particular piece of your own, or someone else’s that you found particularly forceful in conveying some sort of message?
To me it was Amy’s artwork depicting a war, where a sheet of paper was covered in black dots, with each dot representing a person who had died in the war. It was impactful both with the emotional response it evoked, but also in the way it was presented. The contrasts of the blood and the black dots created a sentiment of deep sadness, whilst having it suspended from the ceiling gave it a looming presence.
Ivy Huang, G12:
I also really like Amy’s because she showed these people’s lives through dots. As we are not familiar with the actual scenes of war, we never really get an idea of what it actually looks like when a city is covered with that many human bodies. By using dots she gave us a visual representation that shocks us into realising how many lives and people were actually affected by this war.
I have understood that the IB Arts curriculum demands a great amount of works to be produced, and my instant thought is: How do you find that sort of inspiration, to produce that kind of work under pressure?
At the beginning we were set in specific structures where we were given a frame to set up our own art within where we got a subject matter for each unit, which made it a bit easier. However, as we came towards the end of the course, we had more independence, which I found to be more of a challenge. Some of my artworks this year were inspired by previous artworks, sometimes my own old pieces and sometimes pieces by other artists. Doodling is also a part of my daily life, so some of my works were based off of ideas that grew from these drawings that I had created from scenes in my ordinary life.
Through the assignments of the teacher, we are able to respond and apply our own interpretations. But when we were given more independence to work freely and apply our own ideas entirely, we were overflowing with ideas from our daily lives and artists we like. The challenge is rather one of narrowing it down. We have so many small ideas, but sometimes you have to write them down and think further about them to see what they can become in terms of a big artwork.
Caitlyn: What was your inspiration behind your artwork Save me From Myself?
I was inspired by the fact that so many young people are suffering from self-harm, mental disorders, addictions or other challenges that they can’t get out of by themselves. I wanted to illustrate a cry for help that I think a lot of people bottle up inside them and that are not always as visible and obvious as they are in this piece. There are a lot of people struggling and we need to teach each other how to help ourselves if we can’t help each other.
Ivy: So I was particularly fascinated by your piece that features Chairman Mao. Can you please tell me a little bit more about your inspiration and intentions behind this work?
I was inspired by the Hong Kong demonstrations in 2009, 20 years after the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. These are depicted in the lower left corner and emphasise the need and want by the Chinese people for extended rights when it comes to freedom and freedom of speech. I would have never been able to show this piece in China, nor would the Hong Kong demonstrations have been able to occur in China due to the strict control that is still there, even 40 years after the death of Chairman Mao.
A few of the artworks shown at the exhibition are below!
Underfade by Kieran Kielthy
Doodle Page by Kieran Kielthy
The Portrait of Chairman Mao by Ivy Huang
NanJing Massare 200.000 by Jiamin Huang
Save From Myself Part I & II by Caitlyn Parish