Voices of art

CHS students use digital technologies to describe their work

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Visitors to the Camas High School art show last week may have been surprised to see something considered a faux pas at most venues: People with cell phones pressed to their ears.However, it wasn’t a case of bad manners, but instead technology that allowed users to have a virtual guided tour of the show.

Attendees could dial a specific number associated with each piece of artwork and listen to the creator talk about the process and describe each of their pieces.

The show, which featured more than 70 pieces of art, included drawing, painting, pottery, digital photography and digital art. It was coordinated by CHS art teachers.

“There is work from all of the visual art classes this year,” art teacher Rod Raunig said. “The digital photography, pottery, mixed media, graphic design and drawing and painting classes all have work in the show.”

It is the first school-wide art show at CHS. In years past, shows tended to focus on one class or a student involved in a senior project.

“The cell phone technology is really unique and adds another level to the artwork,” Raunig said. “You can call and hear about each art piece as you view it. The recordings are done by the students and they did a great job explaining their inspirations and processes. The show is about them and the voices help personalize the art.”

Raunig came up with the idea of a “virtual tour” from one of his friends who is an educational consultant.

“As a group of art teachers, we have shaped it to fit our vision,” he said. “We all agreed it was an interesting idea during our collaborative meeting. We meet each Friday in our professional learning community to talk about student learning and exchange ideas. That is where the idea really gained traction for us.”

Sade Allen, a senior, featured a watercolor piece and an abstract drawing in the show.

She took three weeks to complete the watercolor.

“I kept going back and redoing details and everything,” she said. “I haven’t had a lot of experience with it.”

Her abstract drawing, which was originally meant to be a portrait, took less than two weeks from start to finish.

“It was nice showing my work with other people who are good at art,” she said. “I’ve been into art a long time and have a real artistic personality.”

Azita Footohi, a sophomore, spent four months creating an oil pastel of a wine glass, which she also entered into a nationwide art competition.

“I’ve worked with oil pastels before and really enjoy it,” she said. “That’s my main artistic skill.”

She said the size of the high school art show surprised her.

“It was really cool and I didn’t expect it to be that big,” Footohi said. “It was nice to see others’ artwork and the voice recordings were really cool.”

Nicole Roeun, a junior, has loved art since she got in trouble for drawing on the couch with a blue pen as a small child.

“It’s been a lifelong passion,” she said.

Roeun has graduated from drawing on furniture to creating abstract watercolors and drawings. She featured three of her pieces at the show.

“I like to distort objects and shapes and see them from a different perspective,” she said.

Raunig said that the effort put into artwork often goes unnoticed. Having this show, he said, was a nice way to educate attendees as to the hard work it requires.

“I think this is one of the strengths about this type of art show format,” he said. “People tend to think that art is created by really talented people who just sit down and produce it. When in fact, most of the work reflects hours and hours of effort, practice and mental processing. So, when you hear the students talk about where the ideas come from – and how hard they worked to achieve the end result – I think it gives people a more genuine understanding of how art is created.”