North Bergen High School held its annual art show on April 16, showcasing hundreds of pieces from students whose technique and vision were on display. Their work spoke to ambitious efforts in a wide array of mediums including acrylic, oil, watercolor, charcoal, pencil, and ink.
One wall was devoted to digitally-produced works, while another section featured fashion and interior design. A stage held dozens of large canvases.
The exhibit included works from Advanced Placement visual arts, fashion, interior design, sculpture, and graphic design classes.
Who you are
Jessica E. Angel, a junior AP art student currently undergoing gender transition, created a portfolio of works on gender identity and personal growth.
“I have chosen to concentrate on my identity,” Angel wrote. “More specifically my gender identity and who I am. I want to reach those who do not have love for themselves or those who cannot bear to look at themselves in the mirror. I want them to understand that self love will be and always is possible. I want to give others an understanding of what my own identity really is and who I really am.”
Angel said that being pushed to achieve in visual arts was a major step in self-affirmation, after struggling with transitioning for a number of years.
“I never got the help that I needed until this year,” Angel said, noting that transitioning would become much easier on turning 18. “Junior year came along, and one of my teachers pushed me and got me out of that dark place, and helped me move on. It started when Mr. Rodriguez taught me in Basic Drawing. I love him with all my heart. I bumped up to AP art in just one year.”
The face of art
Daniel Guiller’s primary focus was portraiture, both realistic and surreal, in ink, charcoal, and graphite drawings. He created portraits of fascinating people in New York City. He also displayed surrealist sketches and Polaroid photos.
Destiny Vasquez focused on themes of darkness and “creepy things. I often take on a pessimistic view of society in my work,” she said. “Imagination, fear, and dread are often things that I work with.”
Vasquez said that she wants to have a career in illustration and animated film. Studio Ghibli movies were especially influential. Her works included twists on mythological creatures and monsters, in addition to creatures of her own design. She also showed portraits and paintings of Hudson County cityscapes.
Christian Grant does drawing and painting in color and gray scale. One piece used oil paint smears to convey a motion-blur effect in a realistic painting of a Lamborghini.
Another of his pieces was a daring (and successful) first attempt at a self-portrait.
“This was the first time I ever decided to draw myself, and while it was a huge challenge, people really seem to like it,” Grant said.
Fostering fine arts
Many of the works will be brought to the annual Hudson County Alliance of Teen Artists Expo at the Bayonne Public Library from May 6-13. The Expo’s 33rd showing will feature county high schools, municipal high schools, and charter schools in all 12 municipalities in Hudson County.
North Bergen Superintendent of Schools George Solter stopped by and discussed school board plans to institute a fine arts academy in the district, which would allow students to focus more deeply on visual and performing arts.
“Judging by the immense talent here tonight, it’s safe to say that our students deserve nothing less than a fine arts academy program,” Solter said.