Winona Senior High School senior Carina Olvera (second from left) showed her artwork to Anne Simon (far left) during the Senior Art Show reception last week. Madeline Copeman (right) was also displaying her work.
by CHRIS ROGERS
Rachel Renk’s artwork is all about animal expressions: a closeup of a panting dog begging to be played with, two elephants nuzzling, a giraffe in mid chew with its tongue and mess of leaves sticking out to one side. The Winona Senior High School (WSHS) senior had landscapes and botanicals on display, too, at the school’s Senior Art Show reception last Wednesday, but animal faces kept popping up in her work.
Renk can’t help gushing about them, either. “I just love animals. I just think they’re so much fun to draw,” she said. Renk pointed out two canine portraits of her own dogs. She made a series of four pen drawings showing a robin’s journey from egg to flight for the school yearbook. Each one represents a grade. Sophomores are baby birds crying out to be fed. “I like the ones who do show a lot of expression,” Renk said of animals. “They make you happy and it makes me happy to draw them.”
Dayne Schultz was dressed to match her artwork: bright, bright yellow. She finished these line drawings with splashes of paint within the last five days. She was dead-set on having a theme — yellow — and too stubborn, she explained, to give up on it and use pieces she had already made. “Portraits are my favorite thing and one of the things I’m best at,” Schultz said. In a couple of her portraits, women are removing parts of their faces. One is taking it off like she is leaving a masquerade. “That’s kind of taking the mask off at the end of the day,” Schultz explained.
“The art classroom is a place where kids can really relax and feel comfortable and be themselves,” WSHS Art Teacher Sherry Dahlen said. The possibilities are wide open and there is no guide to follow. “When students work with their art, they’re really learning to problem solve,” Dahlen added.
Some of the seniors plan to continue studying art. Abbey Kline, who comes from a family of artists and who produced a picture book in English and Japanese based on her trip to Misato, Japan, is going to the University of Minnesota - Duluth for graphic design, for instance, and Renk plans to study some form of design or architecture at Iowa State University.
Madeline Copeman has other plans: namely, joining the Minnesota National Guard and getting a pre-medicine degree at Winona State University. “I got into art more when I was coping with stuff,” she said, explaining that she lost her father. Copeman’s show includes mesmerizing abstract pieces and a big pop art painting she cranked out in just three hours. Usually, her work takes longer than that, and often involves getting sick of a piece and then coming back to finish it.
Kline and Carina Olvera both get inspiration from scrolling through photographs. Kline based a painting of a London cityscape on a photo that caught her eye, and Olvera adapted photos she found on Pintrest. “I feel like I’m never done with some of the pieces,” Olvera said. She added, “I like being alone when I’m doing art. When I’m making art, my family knows to leave me alone.”
“I’m really musical, and I like to sing and stuff, and I’ve always tried to put that energy toward art,” Alexis Barnett said, introducing her show full of dreamcatchers, stars, and cosmic colors. “When you listen to music you get colorful thoughts in your head … I just try to make my paintings as colorful as the music I listen to,” she added. Barnett plans on taking general education courses at Minnesota State College - Southeast before going on to Eau Claire, Wis., for a four-year degree. She wants to be a high school choir teacher.
The WSHS Senior Art Show is up at the Winona Arts Center at 228 Fifth Street until May 26. The gallery is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. and on Fridays from 3-6 p.m.