On Wednesday, April 1, Salt River High School and the Accelerated Learning Academy hosted the “What Does It Mean to Be” Collaborative Art Exhibit at Two Waters Building B. Fourteen students put their creativity to the test for the first-ever Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community student art show, which is on display through May 8.
Imagine the anxiety of an art show—family, friends, classmates or even random people critiquing your work. There’s more to an art show than what meets the eye; artists had to take into account the preparations, the artwork itself, the setup, choosing what to write in their artwork’s description and coming up with a title that grabs attention. All of the students who participated got a taste of what is involved if they decide to make art a career.
SRHS art teacher Dwayne Manuel and ALA parenting and life skills instructor Edith Eubank teamed up to highlight their students’ artistic abilities. Most participating students had little to no art experience, surprising their teachers and, most of all, the Community with their skills.
“They were a little hesitant and nervous,” said Eubank about her students. “I [tell them], ‘Nobody can do it the way that you’ve done it. Everything that we do is uniquely different, and art is in the eye of the beholder. You can’t please everyone, but as long as you know you gave it your best, I guarantee that someone is going to like your artwork. Just go out there and smile.’”
Art mediums ranged from graphite and colored pencil to watercolor and acrylic painting, origami and clay. Students had a different inspirations and visions for their artwork. Each used personal experiences to create a unique piece, which also gives Two Waters Building A’s display cases a whole new look.
The art exhibit was a hit among spectators. “From one artist to another, these are amazing,” said Community member and artist Isaac Lopez about the artwork on display. “All the painting, pencils and charcoal—these kids are very talented.”
When asked about his personal favorite, student Esidio Thomas chose his acrylic piece, titled “Dead End.”
“That piece means a lot of things to me. There’s a lot of people who try to stop you and your dreams, but it’s really up to you [whether you end up at a dead end or not]. You make that decision,” he said.
“It was good to see a lot of people come out to see what we did. I didn’t think that there would be this many people,” said Thomas about the turnout.
“What my art means to me is [that] sometimes life can be really cruel and sometimes you might see life in grayscale. Here [in ‘Cruel Life, Vivid Imagination’], the colors mean that sometimes people can be so colorful, but be so bland. The colors are all the things that make up my personality. I like to use a lot of color, especially orange,” said student Ariana Chiago about her piece. Chiago’s artwork received the approval of her grandmother, Theresa Chiago, who showed appreciation with a hug.
“We want to continue to build the children’s knowledge of art, from the basics all the way to advanced. We want to expose them to various artists. I would love to take them to the Heard Museum and expose them to some of the work there, and I would like for them to leave an art legacy at each of the school campuses. This is only the beginning,” said Eubank when asked about the future of art in both schools.
The Community is invited to stop by Two Waters Building B to check out the SRHS and ALA Collaborative Art Exhibit, which is on display through May 8.
For more information, contact Dwayne Manuel at Dwayne.Manuel@srpmic-ed.org or Edith Eubank at Edith.Eubank@srpmic-ed.org.