The three Artists of the Month Winners continue to impress their fellow classmates and teachers. They each have talents that range from complex crafting and thoughtful connections in the metals room, to passions for experimenting with new chemicals and inspirations in the darkroom. All veterans of the metals and photography programs, Anna Thomas ’23, Charlie Coleman ’23, and Iris Ventimiglia ’23, have immense devotion and interest in the arts, which shows off in their striking work.
Thomas and Coleman are considered the grandparents of the metals program. This year marks their third year in the Metals Intensive H course at the high school. After having Thomas and Coleman for all four years of their high school careers, choosing this month’s Metals Artists of the Month was a simple task for Ms. Shayla Vines, the metals teacher at the high school.
“There wasn’t really a thought button, I knew it had to be Anna and Charlie,” said Vines.
Anna Thomas ’23, a Metals Intensive H student, sparks friendly competition amongst her classmates as she constantly challenges herself to reach new goals.
Thomas has always had an eye for shiny things. When visiting art museums, she would be fascinated by other artist’s work, and wanted to do it herself. Thomas uses her creative freedom to express emotions and perspectives that otherwise wouldn’t be shared. She finds inspiration for projects from her own relationships, experiences, and conflicts.
“I tend to view the world by picking out: ‘What does this mean, what can I infer from this?’ I try to apply that in my artwork, and it’s a creative outlet for me to relieve any stress I have,” said Thomas.
Self motivated and simply excited to create her own work, Thomas came to the high school unaware of the progress she would make. When working on her favorite piece called “Primary,” she meticulously welded 68 solder seams. Thomas is constantly unlocking new goals and aspirations for her life.
Thomas is a consistent and conscientious artist, who thinks about her pieces in relation to each other, and makes sure to engage her viewers with a stunning portfolio from beginning to end. Last year, her piece sparked a friendly competition in the class of who could have the most solder joints. Everyone aimed to beat her leading number.
“I tell the class every year, there will be a student in this class who’s in the corner, working away, super quiet, and nobody knows what they’re doing. Then, on the day of the critique, they’ll throw down a piece that surprises and amazes everyone. That’s what Anna did with all those solder seams last year,” said Vines.
This project brought Thomas to a higher level, which motivated her to push even harder, and strive for progress with each project. She hopes to connect with her audience, providing meaning behind what initially meets the eye.
“My artwork tells a story–each piece has a meaning behind it hidden within combinations of complex and simple shapes. These pieces often reflect my perception of society or my life experiences. I take the time to ensure that there are unique aspects within each piece but also commonalities that tie the aspects together into one, cohesive work of art. My goal is to allow viewers to appreciate the simplicity of natural shapes hidden within complex geometry, and the deeper meanings that lie beneath the surface,” said Thomas in her artist statement.
Thomas uses art as a medium to portray hidden messages in the world around her. She can take simple ideas or concepts and craft intricate designs that simultaneously reflect her personality, emotions, and societal insight.
Charlie Coleman ’23, a Metals Intensive H student, has both personal devotion and dedication to their craft, making them stand out from the rest.
Coleman, a third year Metals Intensive H student, was initially interested in metals as a way to make jewelry for their family and craft pieces that were simply pretty to look at. In their years with Vines, they’ve learned that metals can also be a form of art that is more profound and meaningful. Regardless of the medium, Coleman sees artistic expression as something that’s always enjoyable and fulfilling.
When wearing this bracelet with rings attached, any movement is restricted by the chains, confining the wearer to a limited range of motion. Coleman uses art to work through moments when challenges emerge that may constrict their life. In thinking of art this way, Coleman shows the effect an artist truly has on their creations, their vulnerability often directly reflecting the artist for who they are.
“I think a lot of people see jewelry and they just think of the person who’s wearing it, and I think one of the really interesting things that I noticed is that the person who created the jewelry is a lot of the time reflected in the jewelry itself,” said Coleman.
Even during online learning, Vines remembers Coleman being very thoughtful with their ideas. Working hard to create something special, a computer screen away from the rest of the class. Coleman showed their dedication by making a necklace. They were the only one in the class to make a true jewelry piece for this particular assignment.
In this assignment, students were asked to play around with steel wire to find what worked best, and what spoke to them the most. Coleman was able to approach this assignment with an open mind, and was resilient in their ability to manipulate the material until an idea worked out.
“Charlie’s brain works well that way,” said Vines. They’re able to decipher what will work out, and what needs to be changed, though always, they keep going and try something new.
While Coleman has habitually stuck to metals at the high school, they attended a sculpture class at UCLA this past summer to diversify the media they were using. Looking forward, Coleman would love to be an artist, but also aims to prioritize their academics, being sure that they have a diverse course load to cater all disciplines.
From her iphone to the darkroom in room 348, Iris Ventimiglia ’23 loves working with chemicals and new techniques to create art that inspires.
Ventimiglia was born a daughter of artists, surrounded by a family devoted to artistic expression. She credits her initial interest in photography from the countless hours spent in art museums as an impressionable child. Now a senior, she continues to discover ways to portray real world problems, and smaller conflicts affecting her daily life.
Ventimiglia approaches photography with few expectations, and lets the artwork speak for itself. A follower of Graciela Iturbide, a photographer who reveals the human experience in Mexico, Ventimiglia attempts to use similar techniques when capturing parts of life that aren’t traditionally perceived as perfect.
After taking almost all of the art classes offered at the high school, Ventimiglia can confidently say that photography is a unique experience at the high school, with such an incredible dark room and materials that are difficult to gain access to anywhere else.
“I prefer black and white film because it’s more hands on since you’re actually using the enlargers and chemicals. I like experimenting with my film, and I’d like to try to do that more this year,” said Ventimiglia. “I think you can only really get the unique aspect with film and printing photos in the dark room.”
Ventimiglia is the type of artist who immerses herself in the craft, as she loves to work hands on with chemicals, and experimenting in the dark room.
Photo by Iris Ventimiglia ’23
Though she was surprised to receive the Artist of the Month award, Ventimiglia attributes the accomplishment to this project she completed last year, where she experimented with a lower shutter speed to manipulate the product.
Photo by Iris Ventimiglia ’23
“I had a lot of work where I used a low shutter speed, so it exposed the photo for up to 20 seconds, and that created the light’s movement. It looks like electricity. That was a theme that was a little different,” said Ventimiglia.
In her second year of Intensive Photography, Ventimiglia still loves discovering new themes and techniques, especially photograms, which add dimension and complexity to an ordinary photo. She’s always learning new things about herself as an artist, and about photography as a medium.
“Photography is always learning and experimenting with new things, once you get the basics down on how long you have to expose something or the chemical process for developing your film,” said Ventimiglia.
Ventimiglia continues to visit museums and search for new inspiration, and will always associate herself with art, no matter where it takes her.
“Taking art classes has been really important to me and I think it’s very valuable to take that creative break from all of the other classes. If you stick with one medium, it turns into a more important part of your school career,” says Ventimiglia.