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MHS artists show off their work

Emily Biondi took home a Juror’s Award at the McNary Art Show at Keizer Art Association (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
Emily Biondi took home a Juror’s Award at the McNary Art Show at Keizer Art Association (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Kaeleigh Dunn, Janice Nelson and Deanna Saukov are three of more than 60 students participating in an McNary High School art exhibit at the Keizer Art Association throughout February.

The prospect of showing their work to a wider audience is both nerve-wracking and exciting.

“It makes me feel good about myself, like I’m doing something I thought I would never do,” said Nelson, who is also one of two artists of the month at McNary.

Some students, like Saukov, also put up their work for sale, which adds another layer of anxiety.

“I’m nervous and kind of scared. I want them to sell and I don’t at the same time. These are the first pieces that I’m really proud of, but I know I’ll do more,” Saukov said.

Dunn has work in the show from several mediums: a watercolor painting, an acrylic painting and a pair of photos. She takes classes from fine arts instructors Mark Kohley and Todd Layton who teach visual arts and digital arts, respectively.

“For me, it felt good to have done work worthy of being shown,” Dunn said. “It helps me keep working at my art because, even if I’m not super-proud of it, I know there is a chance other people will like it.”

The show is a preamble to the McNary Fine Arts Department’s largest fundraiser of the year, Knight of Arts, slated for Saturday, March 7, and an example of why the arts teachers need additional funding throughout the year.

To cover the usage of the gallery space, KAA charged students $5 per piece in the show. Between Kohley’s and Layton’s students that amounted to nearly $600. While some students might have little trouble covering those costs, others would. Layton and Kohley asked the school Fine Arts Booster Club to cover the fees for all students showing their work.

“That amount probably doesn’t even cover rent for the space for an entire month, but we’ll be looking for a title sponsor to assist us if we do it again,” Layton said.

There are also other costs involved from printing photos and graphic design pieces ($2-$3 per piece) to matting ($5 per piece) to framing, which totaled somewhere between $300 and $400 and did not include frames for even half of the displayed pieces.

“If we had framed everything, it would have been double that,” Layton said.

While the fine arts teachers are required to provide an outlet for students in class, to a one, McNary’s teachers attempt to go above and beyond the call of duty. For the visual arts, they attempt an art show, the drama department puts one more than the minimum amount of shows required, the music programs produce CDs and the video production department is running the Celtic News Network (CNN).

“It’s the expense of doing those types of things that the public does not see,” Layton said. “But, the learning that they get from an activity like the art show will often exceed what they are learning in a classroom.”

The results of teacher efforts are not lost on their students. Dunn said the art classes have shown her the hard work it will take to pursue a career in the arts. Nelson said the classes give her an outlet for the stresses that other classes can create. Saukov is one of several who have seen the program from many angles.

“There’s a lot of time put into the programs,” Saukov said. “I’ve been in choir, orchestra and now visual arts and I’ve seen it from all points of view. It’s amazing to see what students can create given the opportunity.”