Brian Schultz, ceramics instructor/fine arts, and Kent Baker, visual arts instructor, inside the art gallery at Capistrano Valley High School. Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider

District’s only student art gallery inspires student body

By Lou Ponsi

The Capistrano Valley High School art gallery provides art students with a place to showcase their work for their fellow students, and is the only student art gallery in the Capistrano Unified School District.

Visible through large picture windows, the gallery is situated in a hallway traveled by hundreds of students, faculty, and staff members every day.

The gallery serves the dual role of highlighting creations of current art students while showing potential art students what it takes to get their pieces in the gallery, fine arts teacher Brian Schultz said.

“I can provide visual aids and lecture and (tell them) hey, this is what they need to do,” Schultz said. “But when they get to see what their peers are doing and how their piece changes from having it on a table in front of them to putting it on a pedestal with lighting and a white background and other artwork around it, then they get this true sense of, ‘I can do this and I can be an artist.’”

The Art Gallery at Capistrano Valley High School.
Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider

The art currently on display in the gallery represents the semester-long work of Capistrano Valley High School’s (CVHS) painting and ceramics students. The ceramics on display are cookie jars and slab boxes, which are the final project for the first semester.

Artists and CVHS students Madori McConathy and Colleen Hillard have both been nominated for Orange County Register Handcrafted Visual Artist of the Year awards. Both students have ceramics pieces in the gallery.

“I am happy that I can create something that others have joy and inspiration in,” Hillard said. “I chose ceramics because I wanted to explore a different medium to express myself. I draw, paint, and love music. Ceramics is the next part of my evolution.”

Being featured in the gallery provides the opportunity for others to see the results of the students’ hard work and inspire others to “explore the potential of art,” McConathy said.

Student work is on display in the Art Gallery at Capistrano Valley High School.
Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider

“I liked creating 3D art prior to being in ceramics and thought it would be a good opportunity to grow my skills,” McConathy said.

The painting and drawing art works are the end result of 14 separate projects from beginning to advanced students that include beginners’ self-portraits, shadow puppet hand studies, eye studies, still life paintings, and informal tessellations.

Advanced drawing/painting student Bethany Grabowski, who is also being considered for the Orange County Register’s Artist of the Year award in the Handcrafted Visual Arts category, said she enjoys seeing the work of her classmates on display along with her own.

“I love seeing everyone’s unique takes on art assignments,” Grabowski said. “Having art in the gallery inspires me to work toward having my art in more galleries someday.”

The gallery is not open to the public this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The current display will be up for a month before another show comes in.

Ceramics Instructor Brian Schultz shows the kiln in the back of the school used to fire ceramic creations.
Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider
The only student Art Gallery in the school district is housed at Capistrano Valley High School. The gallery continuously updates with new art pieces from students
Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider
The Art Gallery at Capistrano Valley High School.
Photo by Steven Georges/CUSD Insider

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