by LAURA HAYES
Since he was a kid, Winona Senior High School (WSHS) senior Mason Henke remembers drawing and doodling. When he got to high school, it was his goal to take an art class every year. His art has grown over the years, he said. “I never really liked drawing people that much, but when I have to, I can draw them a lot better than when I used to,” Henke said.
The month of March is nationally recognized as Youth Art Month (YAM), and according to Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) art teacher Sherry Dahlen, it’s also a time to celebrate student art within the community. “From the perspective of an art teacher, it’s so great to see how talented and creative all of our students are in the district and how much they’ve grown as artists over the years,” Dahlen said.
WAPS student art is displayed across the community at Winona National Bank, the Winona Mall, the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, the Blue Heron, and Wells Fargo Bank. At the Winona Arts Center, the walls are filled with work by students in Dahlen’s Advanced Placement Senior Studio Art class — the highest level art class in the school district.
Henke said that painting one, where students learn how to use watercolor and acrylic paints, helped develop his skills. “I’ve never really painted before that and once I took that class it strengthened my skills and opened up the type of art that I could make,” he said.
“It isn’t uncommon to run into individuals who hold the misconception that art is not an essential component of a student’s education,” Dahlen said. She said that art helps students with their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which she added can transfer to other classes like reading and math. “Art aids in the development of a well-rounded student. My hope is that the community will enjoy and appreciate the aesthetic beauty of our student art displays while contemplating the important role that art plays in the education of our youth,” Dahlen said.
While WSHS senior Grace Going remembered drawing and painting with her siblings growing up, Going developed her art style when she entered high school. “It just came to me. It wasn’t anything specific that influenced my style or how I decided to make anything,” she explained.
When she’s creating a piece of art, Going said that the idea usually pops in her head at random. Art, she said, is a way to take her mind off everything while having a voice. “I think that’s important for everyone to have,” Going said.
She plans to go to Utah for college, and while she hasn’t decided on her major, Going plans on minoring in art.
Ever since she could remember, WSHS senior Bathscheba Duronvil liked drawing. While a lot of her artwork uses different mediums — such as her piece “Femininely Masculine” that features a painted man with a crown of bright, three-dimensional flowers — Duronvil enjoys painting large canvases. “You can be feminine and masculine, there’s nothing wrong with that. Flowers are beautiful,” she said.
“I like culture,” Duronvil said. “As you can see, I was trying to show the beauty in different cultures and different situations.” Some of her art is drawn from her Haitian background, and some of her other work focuses on the beauty in other groups such as the LGBTQIA community, Native Americans, or Muslims. “I focus it on uncomfortable conversations that we don’t want to have to talk about,” she said. “I want to show [the community] the beauty in culture and I want them to leave with more knowledge and understanding of the hidden issues that we have here in the United States.”
When he graduates from WSHS in the spring, Henke plans to attend the University of Minnesota’s College of Design and major in architecture. Art and architecture go hand-in-hand, he explained. “It’s a lot of math and coming up with designs. Math and art made architecture,” Henke said.
All of WAPS’ student art will be on display through the end of the month.