Is art mostly in the eye of the beholder? Or should an artist have complete creative control over any one piece? The artists from the Bloomfield Hills High School International Baccalaureate (IB) Art class have been doing some deep thinking and sharing their reflections on their pieces from their recent public exhibition. According to the International Baccalaureate Organization's own research, "Reflective thinking is a complicated process requiring a focus on multiple types of strategies, including cognitive, metacognitive and affective/motivation strategies," but also leads to "increased academic achievement."
Senior IB Art student Jakob Kuipers envisioned making a statement about the environment with the favorite piece from the show. Kuipers explains, "I was inspired by Picasso and his cubism. Most of his pieces he created have a very strong sense of surrealism." The piece has both realistic and abstract elements that cause the viewer to stop and evaluate each detail. "With this piece, I really wanted to show that there are some issues in the world that need to be discussed and need to be changed," says Kuipers. "Nowadays we are so full of the need to have luxuries in this life. The colorful rainbow colors represent comfort and luxury, but on the inside it destroys us, it destroys the environment we live in, and the one for our future generations. We are destroying our own being by using these luxuries and don't really care about what scientists and people say about things like climate change."
It was a long process from initial idea to the finished product and Kuipers made several changes based on feedback from others. "At first I made a sketch by hand," Kuipers describes, "then outlined it by Adobe Illustrator, then did all the colors and the details. After the critique we did together, I wrote down all the stuff that people said. I ended up changing a few things like the color in the background and some other simple things." After graduation, Kuipers plans to continue to pursue art as a career, taking a gap year then applying to art school in Paris, France.
Senior Grace Wroldsen admits that creating multiple art projects for the public show was more work than expected. The creative theme for the set of pieces was "Identity." Wroldsen says, "It was kind of overwhelming to get everything prepared for the show such as tags for my pieces. It also was very exciting to see everything come together and see the final product." People were drawn to a favorite piece called "Detroit" that used vibrant colors and found objects. "I was most proud of my piece called 'Detroit' because it was a different medium that I had never done before. I loved the message of community and togetherness." The public comments helped the final reflection on whether or not Wroldsen's identity was fully present in the pieces. Wroldsen explains, "I think the most effective criticism is when people tell me that they don't think I put my all into a piece because chances are I know that myself. Realizing that and hearing new ideas about my piece allows me to make it way better."
Wroldsen plans to continue with art, but as a hobby as a student next year in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
This also was the first art show for Senior Emily Uzansky, who spent a lot of time creating the display so that the audience would get a good sense of the unique theme of the pieces. Uzansky notes, "I got really good feedback from my show as they enjoyed my display. The more effective criticism was during class from my peers and teachers on the arrangement of my pieces. This allowed me to create a nice and effective display. " "Roses" was Uzansky's favorite piece. "This was one of my first digital art pieces and I have gotten a lot of good feedback on it. I think it really supports my theme and displays what I am capable of as an artist." Uzansky confirms the public feedback was helpful to developing as an artist. "I loved hearing that the connection to my theme was recognizable, effective, and powerful. This made me realize the art I created had a purpose among an audience. This was a great learning experience and allowed me to grow, not only as an artist, but as a person as well."
Uzansky plans to continue to use the experiences from IB Art in college at Indiana University with an anticipated major in Apparel Merchandising and Business. "I hope to utilize the creative skills I have explored during this process within my higher education. "
Senior Adrianna Lee has had work shown before in both school art shows and the Bloomfield Hills Schools Art Show at the public library, but this was the first time Lee needed to display a whole portfolio. Reflecting that the full process was a challenging experience, Lee admits, "It was much more stressful as I had more components to complete."
Part of the difficulty is that Lee is color-blind. The public provided feedback that both recognized and supported the multiple pieces. "They said that my use of color was surprising due to my colorblindness, and that my overcompensation was apparent through most if not all of my pieces." The most commented-on piece was a self-portrait which had inverted colors expressed through pointillism. It was done in acrylic paint using the back of a pencil. Lee's favorite comment? "My mom said she would like to frame and put my self portrait above our kitchen table."
Lee's next challenge will be in college, pursuing a degree in naval architecture.
Even students who are not in the full IB program benefit from the process. Senior Jacki Spiegel takes both AP Art and IB Art. Spiegel says, "I like that in IB art you can do whatever you want. There's not a certain medium you have to stick with. I've really been able to find my voice as an artist through this class."
Spiegel based a major art work off the MYP Personal Project completed during sophomore year at BHHS. "We filled in our pool, and I redid my whole backyard," Spiegel says. "For this project, I got a drone and flew it to take shots of my backyard. I ended up doing the architectural design on top of the photographs." Spiegel plans to attend Savannah (Ga.) College of Art and Design (SCAD) after graduation. The IB Art class has helped determine Spiegel's career path. "I'm a graphic designer and architect, and I find that I've been able to show my voice better."