May 15, 2003
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YSHS student Darcy Hennessy,
standing below several of her photos.

Array of students’ work at art show
When Yellow Springs High School students get a day off, a few come to school anyway. One of these is Darcy Hennessy, who takes the opportunity to spend a long stretch of time in the school’s darkroom. It’s hard, said Hennessy, who wants to be a photojournalist, to develop photos in the regular 45-minute class period, and besides, she said, there’s few places she’d rather be.
The results of Hennessy’s creative efforts, as well as those of about 40 other local young people, are currently on exhibit at the Bryan Community Center in the annual YSHS Student Art Show. The exhibit, which features fine art, photography, video and computer graphics, is on display through May 31.
“One thing that’s amazing is that I never get tired of looking at their work,” said YSHS video and photography teacher Melina Elum, who’s taught at the school for nine years. “It’s never the same. There’s always something fresh and original.”
Originality of vision abounds in the exhibit’s photos, as does the students’ ability to find beauty in ordinary, unexpected places. In “Wheels of Time,” a photograph by Kayla Graham, bicycle wheels become new and mysterious, while Maggie Krabec finds symmetry and grace in the Mills Lawn Big Toy. Snow on bicycles becomes a study in light and form in the hands of Emma Robinow, while Jake Fulton finds beauty in ears of corn.
The shape of a spiral stairway catches the artistic eye of Issa Walker in his photo, “Moving Up Lightly,” while Lila Jensen finds an unexpected grace in her photos of liquid-filled glasses. Bethany Borbely captures joy and innocence in a photo of a child’s feet, while Matt Zaff creates irony and surprise with his juxtaposition of a winged statue and a modern skyscraper.
And in three photos of solitary people looking out windows, Hennessy creates striking and compassionate images of isolation.
“Overall, the work is strong this year,” said Elum, who teaches both beginning and advanced photography courses. “You can see how students who had a rocky time starting out learning to work with cameras overcame that admirably. It shows in the work, the high quality of it.”
While the students’ photography offers many examples of finely tuned observation, their fine art offers a sense of freedom and playfulness.
“My main theme is to encourage students to love art and to continue their exploration of it in whatever way they choose,” said YSHS/McKinney School art teacher Carla Steiger-Meister. “I’m proud of my students’ work. It reflects great inspiration and creativity.”
Students in art and advanced art were clearly offered a wide variety of means for exploring their creativity. A paper montage by Kenny Wilson presents images of violence, while Rebecca Guest created a delicate glass and bead sculpture using strips of a CD. Patrick Holihan made a nontraditional skirt from flattened Dr. Pepper bottles while Jennifer Gordon painted a pop art rendition of a Coca-Cola bottle cap. Drums created from gourds are also on exhibit.
Art students also learn traditional techniques for drawing and painting, as evidenced in a finely nuanced charcoal drawing of the lower half of a face, by Rose Byrnes.
Yellow Springs High School art students’ familiarity with major art movements is obvious in the exhibit as well, with pieces that explore surrealism, abstract expressionism and pop art, among others. Students understand art more deeply when they have some historical perspective, Steiger-Meister believes.
“I like to teach art as a dialogue with history,” she said.
At the high school, 55 students are enrolled in video and photography classes while 14 take art and advanced art. Some students’ preference for technical arts reflects our society’s focus on technology, said Steiger-Meister, who believes that low-tech art still offers considerable riches for the art student.
“Something magical happens,” she said, “when an artist creates something just with her hands.”
Those who want to know what Yellow Springs young people are thinking these days might choose to visit this exhibit, which also offers reminders of the beauty of the ordinary world and the surprise and joy of making art.

—Diane Chiddister