Art flourishes in visual arts academy

Published 2:09 pm Monday, January 25, 2016

Natalie Medrano pencils a grid-portrait of a popular YouTube celebrity in Kim Harrison’s Art III class. (Reporter photo/Jessa Pease)

Natalie Medrano pencils a grid portrait of a popular YouTube celebrity in Kim Harrison’s Art III class. (Reporter photo/Jessa Pease)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— Students looking to pursue a career in photography, graphic design or art education can explore several art mediums through Pelham High School’s fine arts academy.

The visual arts branch of the academy starts with Art I and allows students to forge their own artistic path through sculpture, photography, digital design and studio art.

“The academy is very helpful because they are able to choose from so many different classes, whereas it might just have been a drawing (or) a painting (class previously),” said Jennifer Argo, who brought Sculpture I and II to Pelham.

Argo, Kim Hinds and Kim Harrison make up the art department and have worked to provide a plethora of options for the students. Harrison has been with the school for 31 years and said she can remember a time when she was the only art teacher at PHS.

“It’s like I get to see it come full circle,” she said. “To where we are more competitive with Hoover, Mountain Brook and the (Alabama) School of Fine Arts, instead of just having the basic stuff.”

Harrison teaches Art I, II and III as well as AP Art Studio. Casey Brooks, a 12th-grader in Harrison’s AP Art Studio, said the classes at PHS have helped him hone his skills.

Brooks is currently working on his senior portfolio, featuring several works of art. He explained that the portfolio has a single focus to base his art on, and it also includes art that showcases his artistic range.

The concentration for Brooks’ portfolio is a series of renaissance statues that have been “transformed into a morbid form of beauty.”

“I like the freedom of the class because it allows me to use the tools that we have at our disposal here to work on an area that, say, I’m not comfortable with yet,” he said. “Being able to draw out a thought and then go crazy with the equipment we are given, it’s extremely helpful.”

His portfolio will be submitted near the end of the year, and it can also be submitted for scholarships. Harrison said the three art teachers love helping students apply for scholarships.

Many of the students in higher art classes often plan to pursue some kind of art degree in college, according to Harrison. Brooks said he would like to pursue a career in graphic design.

“We’ve had so many go on to some of the bigger schools, like Savannah College of Art and Design and Art Institute of Atlanta,” Harrison said. “It just always thrills me when we are able to help them get scholarships to be able to pursue their dreams.”

Senior Guillermo Arias was recently accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga. He said he plans on going into the graphic design field.

Being a part of the art academy, Arias said, has helped him explore different mediums to determine where his passions lay.

“If you are more exposed to different mediums, you are more applicable to different situations,” he said. “I am extremely excited because this means I can continue in art.”