Spring Upper School Arts Show Celebrates Sidwell Student Multimedia Art

Currently displayed in the Arts Center, the Spring Upper School Arts Show celebrates the work of upperclassmen and graduating seniors, featuring pieces from all the Upper School visual arts classes including drawings, paintings, pottery, sculptures and photography.

“The thing that I love about this show is that it fills up two floors,” Middle School Art Teacher Aaron Brophy, who curates art exhibitions at Sidwell, said in an interview. “This space has artwork that’s cycled through all the time.”

In Upper School Visual Arts Teacher Catherine Dunn’s Advanced Studio Art class, students prepared portfolios, creating a series of pieces connected by a theme, which are currently on display in the Rubenstein Arts Gallery. Students also created unique self-portraits, exploring their self identity.

A drawing that stood out to Brophy was a self-portrait drawn within a phone screen, which he described as “playing with aesthetic and also conceptual ideas.”

Brophy fondly reflected on students’ work, saying, “It makes me proud to see what [students] are creating.”

In Upper School Ceramics Teacher Caroline Battle’s classes, students created individual pieces that eventually formed larger projects, which are arranged in the glass cases outside of the RLS Meeting Room.

“In addition to the traditional vessels, students are doing some great sculptural and abstract forms,” Brophy said of the ceramics exhibition.

Commenting on a mini ceramic toy train set, Brophy explained that “when you look closer and you look at the craftsmanship and the glazing and the skills involved in crafting it, you realize it’s not just a toy.”

In Upper School Photography Teacher Lely Constantinople’s class, students use lighting, contrast and different camera angles to change the way images are perceived. Students’ photographs are displayed in the Arts Center as well as outside on various walls around campus.

“The students are doing the black and white traditional photography, and they’re also doing dramatic light studies, playing with ideas of perception,” Brophy observed, pointing out a photograph in which the color of the sky had been edited. “The digital manipulation is interesting; it’s subtle, the change to a pink sky, but sometimes, it takes a moment for something to wash over you.”

In addition to curating the Spring Upper School Arts Show, Brophy also organizes the Visiting Artists Program, which celebrates the work of artists studied in class, invites them to visit Sidwell and features their work in exhibitions.

Brophy shared the benefits of the Visiting Artists Program.

“When you have the visiting artists come and interact with the students … you’re having the students engage with professional artists,” he explained.

Brophy believes that the Visiting Artists Program and the art program as a whole play a key role at Sidwell: “There’s this kind of connectivity and integration where what’s happening in the classroom is what’s happening in the gallery space, or the cafeteria, or the walls of the courtyard.”

“Building community is at the core of celebrating the arts program,” he said.