Living Art: The IB Art Show


Mimi Morgan

Noah Goltz, a junior in the IB Art class, poses to show off his painting after the show. He chose to recreate “Self-Portrait” by Vincent Van Gogh.

Mimi Morgan and Sarah Jane Cornils

For the first time ever, West High International Baccalaureate Art students participated in the annual Fine Arts Assembly. The students paraded across the stage with painted costumes and backdrops, recreating famous paintings, including Starry Night, The Scream, and several iconic self-portraits.  As the students showed off their work, fun facts about the painting and artists were read to the audience.  After the show, the living paintings stood in the foyer to give the audience an opportunity to take a closer look.

Mimi Morgan
Caitlin Omey, a junior in the IB art class poses as Frida Kahlo in her self-portrait, catching all the details down to the eyebrows.

Preparation for the show started at 7:30 on the morning of the show, and the students were hustling and bustling to showcase their best work in only three hours.  After they finished preparing, all the IB Art students had to run through the rehearsal twice, which took away time from their preparations.

Rachel Wall, the IB Art teacher, thinks that it’s very important that the art classes other than dance, choir, and band are included in the Fine Arts Assembly.  However, she recognizes the difficulties of incorporating visual art into the assembly, saying, “I get it, showcasing art in an assembly format is challenging, so doing something that keeps the audience actively engaged is best.  That’s why we’re doing the walking, rather than just a museum set up.”

Some IB art students felt out of their comfort zones showing all of their work to the whole school, but most students enjoy the atmosphere and curriculum of the IB art class.  Lily Flanum, a junior in the class says, “the environment is an independent space that allows you to work on whatever you need to. . .in a non-stressful environment.”  These students often use the IB art class to not only learn and practice art, but relieve the stress that builds up during the rest of their day.

The IB Art class at West provides students with a set of challenges they wouldn’t get in a normal classroom experience and opportunities to create art within the community.  “I tend to use my IB classes as a way to get involved in the community. We’ve done this through painting chairs for elementary school chairs and will be painting trash cans,” Wall said.

Some students in the class plan on moving forward with a career in art involvement.  This can often be an intimidating experience, but the IB Art class helps prepare these students for college level art classes.  The class helps students develop a portfolio to present to colleges.

Although the class may seem intimidating to join, IB Art is open to all students and encourages students to try something out of their comfort zone. The unique experience it can provide is unlike any other class at West, and IB Art students and teachers alike believe that it will help them in the future.

One common criticism students have of the IB Art curriculum, however, is the required comparative project at the end of the class.  Wall says, “I’ve had two kids try to drop just because of the comparative…I find value in everything the IB curriculum had but the comparative.”  However, she also says that the class is very valuable because “it’s a higher level art class, so we learn skills, but the voice of the student is much stronger than in other classes. We push creative thinking supported with process.”

In addition to the challenging comparative at the end of the semester, obstacles of the class include “lots of writing, and occasionally you work in a medium you don’t have experience with,” says Nikos Pennino, a sophomore in the class.

Even with the challenges of the class, IB Art is a great way to expand your knowledge, destress and experience a new aspect of West.