Express Yo’ Self brings life to, breaks out of art show stereotype

Julia Wasik, News/Opinion Editor

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On Thursday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Theater lobby, National Art Honor Society students re-vamped the traditional take on school art shows with Express Yo’ Self, a more creative, interactive and fun approach to promoting the arts.

A henna tattoo station (a form of temporary body art) was set up next to Guido the Ram, fairy lights were hanging above, a live performance set was ready, students art pieces were all around, and the air smelled of coffee with a side of animal crackers. Operated by National Art Honor Society (NAS) students, the art show with a coffee shop theme included live musicians, poets, live art, and henna tattoo artists.

“Over the past couple of years people didn’t really go to art shows that much…they were just more sparsely attended,” said Dr. Kay Silva, who teaches art foundations, painting, and Honors/AP studio art. She was also the winner of Illinois High School Art Teacher of the Year award for 2017. In order to attract more attendance, NAS students decided to change things up.

“The atmosphere was perfect,” said junior Audra Baun. “There were tons of artists doing live art and performances, and there were so many attendees, I could hardly get from one side of the room to the other.”

The “atmosphere” of Express Yo’ Self was the opposite of a silent room at an art museum. Instead, live music, poetry, rap, and the chatter of friends and family buzzed in the background around the student art.

“I think [the event] made [art] seem fun and not so serious,” said Silva. In comparison to a select art show or an art museum experience where art is observed in passivity and silence, Silva says that by not doing this, Expresso Yo’ Self helped to make the experience more lively.

“[The purpose was] to create a place where people and art could come together in a meaningful way, in an environment that encouraged interaction and appreciation of both of those things,” said Baun.

In this event, the NAS students contributed a lot of time and effort, helping out with things from the decor to the logistical planning and student designed advertisements.

“I think it is more empowering when kids run things in the school…the only thing I really did was hang the art,” said Silva.

Silva and Baun both agree on the importance of recognizing the artists in GCHS who don’t get the limelight on the track, field, or court but also have unique talents and a vital voice.

“I think it’s important because artists and art doesn’t get as much recognition as other clubs and sports at school, but we still work really hard for our passions,” junior Samantha Steffen. Student artists are the best means of expressing their own voices, using their art to share their passions.

With the success of this event, Silva indicates that another express yo’self event may be in the future.

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