The Lansing Art Gallery, located in downtown Lansing, is a showcase for original art forms and a place for artists to come together. Every year during April, the gallery offers an Art Scholarship Alert exhibition for Howell High School students and other students in the area.
“Howell High School art students have shown and won many scholarships over the years, including this year,” Ms. Vlahos says.
Likewise, four Advanced Photography students were chosen to be shown this year at the gallery. These students are senior Hailey Lamb, junior Meghan Beno, and sophomores Gabe Seck and McKenzie Pollick.
“It’s a great opportunity for the students to not only experience the excitement of seeing their artwork in a traditional gallery space but to also see what other art students in the area are creating,” Ms. Vlahos says.
Additionally, The Art Scholarship Alert is a competition for grades 9 to 12. It’s designed to give recognition and financial assistance for outstanding art students and to encourage artistic growth. Students are required to submit a portfolio of works of art to be juried by a team of professional artists and educators.
“Art is meant to be seen and shared with the community and I encourage all art students to exhibit their work, especially when the opportunity for scholarships is involved,” Ms. Vlahos concludes.
Fall is not only known for the weather starting to cool down, but for the spooky atmosphere as well. Scary stories, creepy legends, and frightening myths are all fall favorites. Howell High School photography teacher, Kristina Vlahos, created a new project that fits the season well.
Vlahos has been an art teacher for eight years and a photography teacher for two. She is very interested in all of the arts and always in trying something new. “I fall in love with all aspects of art,” says Vlahos.
When Vlahos attended Howell High, there was a rumor that the people who designed the school also designed a prison (which would explain the no windows). The idea of the rumors surrounding the high school and the spookiness associated with fall gave her the inspiration to invent the project, “The Tall Tales of Howell High School”.
Vlahos opens her debut of her new project by asking, “What rumors did you hear when you were in school?” She explains that we naturally form legends ourselves.
The project was for the Advanced Photography students. The objective was for them to create a “legend” that was rumored to be on the grounds of the school and take a picture to go with their story. They would use Photoshop to add effects to make the picture complement their story.
After the students finished the project, they presented to the class and took in critiques from the other classmates and Vlahos to make them become better photographers. This helped them get a new outlook on what they could do to increase their abilities as young artists.
Although this was a first-time project, Vlahos was very pleased with the turn out. “The students went above and beyond.”
Overall, the new project was a success and everyone enjoyed it. “I will definitely continue to do this project in future years.”
Being the “new student in school” is always intimidating and stressful; just imagine how apprehensive a new teacher feels. Kristina Vlahos, an art teacher at Howell High School, knows all about how being the “new kid on the block” feels, considering she is the newest addition to the art department.
Ms. Vlahos is not completely new to teaching art class. She taught multiple art classes at Hutchings Elementary for a few years, as well as Southwest, where at both schools she was a kindergarten art teacher. As for her high school teaching career, she worked part-time last year, and now is a full time staff member.
Vlahos feels right at home at HHS.
“I was born and raised in Howell. I have lived here my whole life. I was so excited to get this job, I really feel like I have come full circle. I’m honored to be able to give back to the community,” Vlahos said with a bright smile.
This year she is teaching Digital Imaging, Ceramics, and Digital Photography.
Art is such a salient part of her life. Vlahos has focused on art her entire life, working as a freelance artist and painting murals.
“Ever since I was little, I knew what I wanted to be. In second grade my teacher asked our entire class what we wanted to be when we grew up, so I wrote down teacher! As soon as I did that, I knew I made a little mistake, so I crossed that out and wrote down art teacher,” Ms. Vlahos said.
Ms. Vlahos is how passionate she is about her job. The fact that she followed her dreams, and was able to make them come true is absolutely impressive. One thing Ms. Vlahos grinned while telling me about was optimism.
“Be an optimus prime, not a megatron,” Vlahos said. “It’s my favorite quote, mainly because one – it’s from Transformers, and two – because students need to have a hopeful view, otherwise they will never think that they are capable of something that I know they can do if they put their minds to it.”
Ms. Vlahos loves this quote so much that she hung it up right next to her desk.
Vlahos told me her favorite thing about her class is being able help students improve their artistic abilities, as well as getting to know the students on a personal level.
“No matter what, having a positive attitude is important. Oh! Also, just because you don’t think you are good at art, doesn’t mean you can’t learn it! For me, the best part about art is being able to create something you had no idea you could create. I love that it is just complete self expression. Most of all, it’s just fun.”
Not only is Howell High School’s senior Amy Aubert book smart, she’s artistically talented as well.
At the young age of 17, Aubert carries a successful head on her shoulders. She currently balances a 3.99 overall GPA, and is a member of the National Honor Society, all while enrolled in Advanced Drawing and Painting.
“Everyone expresses themselves in their own way. For me, I express myself with art. Art is meaningful to me in more ways than I can describe. Basically it means the power to express yourself and be creative. Art was such a natural thing, natural talent. I did have to work hard to get to where I am now though. I always enjoy seeing improvements from how I used to be,” Aubert says.
Being involved with art at such a young age has proficiently increased her talent, and knowledge within the styles of art.
“I didn’t have anyone that inspired me to try art; I just took an interest to it. I started at a young age. At school I’d be drawing and my work would turn out really good. Everyone just made me want to draw more,” Aubert says.
Likewise, her creative imagination she puts toward art has allowed her to achieve great satisfaction. While attending Highlander Way Middle School, she designed the school yearbook’s front and back cover in eighth grade. In addition to designing, she has had her pieces featured every year in the HHS yearbook.
“I really like how art is so expressive. Whenever I go through something, it’s always nice for me to express through art. Sometimes there’s really no other way. If I’m not feeling well or something’s bothering me, I portray it better through art. Another helpful tool is listening to music because it helps me describe things more efficiently. If I listen to loud and angry, my drawing will match the emotion of the story better. With those drawings, I can describe things I normally wouldn’t be able to,” Aubert says.
Above all, Aubert’s commitment to art is the reason behind her well-earned awards, accomplishments, and successes.
The Howell Main Street Downtown Development Authority put on their first annual public art initiative this year. There were seven categories made possible to enter. Aubert entered the K-12th grade category and won first place, allowing her art to be auctioned off at the Melon Bell and copied to be framed and hung on the outside wall of the Howell Opera House.
“My drawing of a self portrait was what had won. It makes me feel good that I won a spot. It also makes me want to try harder every time I see it because I want it to be the best it can be, that way when people see it, they have the pleasure of enjoying it,” Aubert says.
It’s common for an artist to have a piece which becomes favored more than others. The growth throughout an artist’s years is what truly prepares them for the amazing journey ahead.
“My proudest piece would be my charcoal self portrait I created in sophomore year. It looks like me and captures a mysterious emotion. I thrive towards doing that again but in a different way,” Aubert says.
On the other hand, Aubert is also designing and drawing posters for the 2012-2013 season of the roller derby team called the Brighton Roller Dollz. This allows her posters to be in businesses all over Brighton.
Additionally to making posters, Aubert has her own website which displays her artwork. Deonna Labert, a Roller Dollz, along with Shawn Aubert, Aubert’s brother, started designing this website in appreciation.
“My website is called www.amyaubert.com. Upon looking, you’ll find old and current pieces of my artwork. On a side note, I love drawing portraits. I also do charcoal, water colors, and digital media. My mom encourages my art by hanging pieces in the house,” Aubert says.
As well as her family being supportive, Aubert’s art teacher Mr. James Vancoppenolle has also encouraged her art every step of the way.
“Amy’s works are very much reflective of herself. The “Qualities” of both are outstanding. Throughout the last four years she has never been satisfied with just doing her work, she always seeks growth and knowledge about herself, her work, and her world. I can tell you honestly, in June she, and many of seniors I have been privileged to have in my classes, will be missed. However, I know she has been well prepared for her future, where ever it takes her. I am sure we will hear more in the years to come about her successes,” Mr. Vancoppenolle says.
However, college will be here in the blink of an eye. That’s why Aubert has already applied to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) and Kendall College of Art and Design, both art colleges. With such powerful dedication to art, she knows that continuing her talent after high school will be all worthwhile.
“I hope to illustrate a comic book one day, preferably Manga Style. Manga Style is Japanese Anime. When I was a little girl I’d be watching TV and that type of show drew me in to where I couldn’t stop watching,” Aubert says.
Nevertheless Aubert looks forth in whatever the future has in store for her. She has strong potential, and because of her dedicated mindset and reachable dreams, she’ll be successful with wherever her art takes her.
“As I said before, I’m very expressive,” says Aubert. “I like to give my art a purpose.”
Usually when you think of a teacher, fun isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. A teacher’s life seems to be just a simple existence where they live and breathe their jobs. Of course, there are these types of cut-and-dry teachers, always living a minimal lifestyle, but Howell High School photography teacher, Mr. Jason Lounds, is just the counter example to this stereotype.
When his college years came about, Mr. Lounds started by attending Lansing Community College (LCC). He took his basic requisites that he needed for college, along with taking some drawing and design classes. After graduating from LCC, he made his way to Central Michigan University. Central is where Mr. Lounds first began his teacher training classes. Mr. Lounds did not stop there, though; he finished his K-12 teaching degree at Olivet University in Olivet, Michigan. After the long haul and much effort at these different universities, he eventually finished his art degree at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Mr. Lounds first started his career about 14 years ago. His first two years of teaching was at an elementary school in Lansing. After that he came to Howell High School and became the photography teacher.
Mr. Lounds has a straightforward philosophy about his job. “I teach, and I do,” Mr. Lounds says simply.
If you ask Mr. Lounds why he loves to teach photography he will tell you that he loves teaching for a few reasons. His first and most loved part is that he loves to coach kids, even when he was younger. He likes to be able to show students things that will be interesting to students. Plus, the fact that he himself loved anything and everything that had to do with photography.
According to Mr. Lounds, photography is a lot like music. It’s a way to express yourself; it’s a broad subject that you could take all sorts of different approaches to. It provides a way to open up your horizons, or just vent and communicate. A singer himself, he also finds music to be a “release” and “rejuvenating.”
Previously to teaching, Mr. Lounds did find himself getting into some free-lancing jobs in Michigan, in Chicago, and even through Craigslist. Though he still does some free-lance jobs, Mr. Lounds decided that he was going to combine what he loved into one exciting job: teaching students how to deal with all different types of photography.
“That’s why I love to teach elective classes,” Mr. Lounds says.
Teaching isn’t everything Mr. Lounds does in his life. He and his family stay active by running in 5K runs and participating in sports. Mr. Lounds himself is in Tae-Kwon-Do, a Korean martial art, and he’s pretty impressed with himself because he is going to be a blue belt soon.
Photography to Mr. Lounds is not a career, but a passion where he is able to express himself. He enters contests and even had art work in the Clinton Arts Festival and the Boston Young Contemporaries Show. But his biggest accomplishment is that his artwork that made the top 50′s in London. The project that he is most proud is based on the masculinity and femininity of men and women in relationships.
Mr. Lounds also helps out seniors every year by taking their senior pictures for an affordable price. If interested, visit his site: JasonLounds.com for all his contact information.
Mr. Lounds really loves teaching his students, especially when they are eager to learn. To have the chance to show a student how to further their interest is one of the main reasons Mr. Lounds is a teacher. He will always tell you to follow your interests and pursue your dreams. Whether it’s photography or music, he believes a person should follow their passion.
Alexandra Nash fits the typical stereotype of an artist. Her long, wavy brown hair is often bound by colorful headbands, and she wears whatever fits her mood. Nash’s personality is also mirrored in her art.
Nash is currently a junior at Howell High School and a member of the Advanced Painting and Drawing class. Nash was born and raised in Howell; she lives at home with her younger sister, two younger brothers, and her parents. Nash’s parents also attended Howell High School. As an artist Nash uses inspiration from her everyday life to incorporate into her art.
“Art to me is one way I can express myself without any boundaries,” says Nash.
Nash’s main focus in art is drawing and painting. She loves to combine ink and water color. Ink gives a bold graphic design and a very exact, detailed look, while water colors add fluidity. Sometimes when she spills ink she just makes it part of the painting. The ink splatters and the flowing design of water color really reflects Nash’s laidback attitude about life. Nash’s inspiration for water colors is an artist named Stina Perrsons. She admires the skill and uniqueness of Perrson’s art.
“I believe art is all about perception,” says Nash.
A common theme that Nash uses in her art is combining surrealism and abstraction in portraiture to show that the human race is twisted. This is shown in one of her pieces that she titled “Surrounded by Your Lies.” The piece is done with ink and features a face with multiple lines and designs coming out of the mouth, surrounding the face and filling the paper. Although she believes that art is perceived she puts her own emotions and ideas into them, hoping that people will detect them.
Nash is also very interested in street art. One of her favorite artists is Banksy. She found Banksy while watching a documentary about street art and was instantly addicted to his art. Banksy uses art to show how the world is a canvas and Nash loves the messages he portrays in them. Nash follows Banksy on Twitter and has the link to his website on her computer.
“When I’m working on art I listen to music, sometimes classical music and other times I listen to Dub Step,” says Nash. “Everything just depends on my mood.”
Not only does her mood affect the music she listens to but also the way her art looks. When in a bad mood Nash’s art tends to be dark with more defined lines, and when she is in a good mood her art has a more fluid look. However, whatever mood Nash is in her art always turns out amazing.
It’s not just Nash’s friends and family that are impressed with her art work. Two of Nash’s paintings were recently selected to be displayed in the local art show, Got Art, held at the Opera House. Nash is an incredible artist and it is something she plans on doing in her free time for the rest of her life and maybe even incorporating it into her career. She has considered working with graphic design or even interior design of vehicles.
“Art is my way of making a mark on the world,” says Nash. “Memories fade, but my art will last.”
Ideas can be expressed in many forms. Some people like to write poetry and others like to bust out their guitar and write a song. For Amy Aubert, HHS sophomore, her ideas get expressed through the art she creates.
Aubert, who is currently enrolled in Advanced Drawing and Painting, works with a number of painting tools like charcoal, washes, color pencils, paint, oil, and graphite.
“I like it all, but my favorites are charcoal and graphite,” Aubert smiles.
Aubert has been drawing since she was a little kid, but she really got interested in art in fourth grade. It was then that Aubert started to pick up drawing and painting in her spare time.
Although she hasn’t entered in many art-based competitions, she did design the front and back cover of her Highlander Way Middle School year book while an eighth grade student there.
“I haven’t really thought about having my own gallery, but I would like to make a career out of my art doing illustrations for graphic novels,” Aubert says.
Aubert explains that she would like to work on graphic fantasy novels, but is flexible and would work on anything.
In Advanced Drawing and Painting, she is currently working on recreating an old classic painting but making it more current.
“I decided to take an old picture of people on the beach and to make it more modern. I’m going to paint more current swim suits,” Aubert says.
Mr. James Vancoppenolle who teaches Advanced Drawing and Painting, commented about HHS’s art students. “Howell Art Program has had a long tradition of producing passionately hard working individuals who have gained success through their production of quality examples of art in a wide range of areas. In the last twelve years, these students have earned well over $500,000 in scholarships and college credit. They have gone off to become successful, either working as artists or doctors, teachers, nuclear engineers, and more. All of them have been talented at being productive and interesting citizens. And I get to see new examples of this every year in all of my classes.”
Each and every year more students enroll in HHS’s art program and become more interested in the arts. HHS’s art program teaches students different techniques along with letting them explore their own art instincts.
The art students here at HHS, like Amy Aubert, get the opportunity to express their ideas through the art they create while gaining experience that will last them a lifetime.
As Howell High School’s Art Department grows, there continues to be more and more students who are doing well in different art competitions and shows.
Howell High had six students qualify one of their entries for the High School Portfolio Exhibition and Scholarship Competition Show at the Lansing Art Gallery. Sophomore Hailey Lamb, Juniors Zackary Goad and Gabrielle Montesanti, and Seniors Tana O’Donnell, Christine Jenks and Jonah Rosselot were some of the 100 students who qualified out of about 600 entries.
The show consisted of different works ranging from 2D photographs, paintings, drawings, paintings, fabric work, 3D sculptures, and other forms of art. With so much diversity and talent, it truly is an honor for the students chosen.
“These students all show exceptional talent and their photographs were very powerful, visually,” photography teacher, Mr. Jason Lounds, said.
Mr. Lounds wasn’t the only one who believed this, with some of the students winning awards. Goad, Jenks, and Lamb each received a $100.00 award for their photographs being some of the best in their grade.
Lamb is very thankful she had this opportunity. “It was a wonderful experience. It was interesting to see how my work stacked up against other Michigan students. As someone who is extremely critical about her work, it was a big confidence boost to not only be displayed, but awarded at such a large scale.”
The art show is a great way for the students to progress with their skills and to have a new experience. Lamb shared how she learned how to display her work in a gallery and how to separate the work that she personally liked from the work that is her strongest.
For all students interested in art, entering an art show or going to someone else’s show could give great insight.
Lamb advises other artists to participate. “Enter as many competitions as you can. There are several in Michigan offered to high schools students, many with entry fees as low as $5. Every time you enter your work, you learn something new about it and yourself.”
To go support our local students and see if entering a show may be something you are interested in, the show is still running until April 21. The tickets are free and the show will be open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 4pm, and on Saturdays from 1pm until 4pm.
Howell High School photography students have had pictures hung in the halls of the Commons Area and photography hallways, some even featured in art galleries in Lansing. This year, a few of these students have received exceptional recognition for their work.
Senior Taylor Anderson, has been recognized for her work in photography. She was named a Regional Silver Key Award Winner in the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition, a nonprofit organization.
“They look at over 150,000 works and award around 50,000 Gold and Silver Key Awards,” Anderson said. She is one of only three students to receive the second highest award for this region.
The organization “identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
Anderson’s photography also gained acknowledgment when she received a $20,000 scholarship to the College for Creative Studies (CCS), which she will be attending in the fall.
“I hope to go into some sort of fashion or advertising photography [at CCS],” she said. Anderson is just one of the seven students who helped bring in $164,000 in photography scholarships this year.
Cody Barnaby, Alli Norman, Christine Jenks, Zackary Goad, Hailey Lamb, and Tana O’Donnell were other recipients of scholarships that contributed to this outstanding number. Scholarship money was not only offered from art colleges statewide, but also from art galleries in the state.
Tana O’Donnell received a $40,000 scholarship to CCS. O’Donnell plans on attending Lansing Community College next year to get her basic courses done and then transfer to either CCS or Kendall College of Art and Design.
“CCS seems to have more intense programs, but I like the atmosphere of Kendall better,” said O’Donnell. “I am going to wait until I’m done at LCC to decide.”
O’Donnell’s work has received appraisal not only in our state, but in other countries. Earlier this year a particular photo was discovered on her Flickr account (a photography sharing website) by a non-profit theatre group in Canada.
The Nakai Theatre was interested in featuring her photo, a trapped girl drowning under water, on a play poster for their production of The River. They asked for permission to use the photo, which is now featured on their website and on play posters. She is dutifully credited for her artistic work in the bottom-left corner of the image.
“Receiving the scholarship and having my work featured in Canada has definitely made me more confident in my photography,” O’Donnell stated. “It’s a great feeling knowing that other people see your artwork and enjoy what they see.”
HHS arts and photography students have gained much positive attention for their works this year. Whether it is snapping photos at school events, working in the school’s photography room, or creating clever projects at home, these students are marking their paths in the world of photography.
“I’m very proud to be a part of their educational experience and a part of such a great department within a district that believes in and supports the arts,” said photography teacher Mr. Jason Lounds.
Fine art has been losing its value in the school systems. Howell High School is lucky enough to have multiple art classes including beginner and advanced classes of drama, drawing, painting, ceramics, jewelry, choir, band, and photography. Each class has been growing rapidly, especially photography. In the past ten years, it has gone from a class of 15 students to over 200. Last year alone over $70,000 in scholarship money was awarded to two Howell High School photography students. Along with the class size, the skill level and difficulty has been rising. Students now are reaching new heights with digital media and are allowed to explore this in Photography.
This year there are three photography teachers, creating eight Photography I classes and three Photography II classes. Howell High School used to have film photography classes, but this has changed in the past four years. The transition into digital art has been swift but sometimes challenging.
“Photography is the biggest art class in the school. Digital photography is constantly changing, everyone is constantly learning. The software and cameras are always being replaced in this new media,” says Mr. Jason Lounds. He is one of the two full-time photography teachers. Mr. Lounds has a Master of Fine Arts in photography and has been featured in numerous galleries.
The students in photography have been a huge success throughout the years. These students have earned new cameras, laptops, printers from colleges, and have even been published in magazines and on prestigious websites.
Junior Nicole Mossuto says her favorite part is the peer critiques in the class.
“It’s a fun class, it gives you a chance to be creative,” says Mossuto.
Senior Alli Norman has also been a standout this year in photography with plans on pursuing illustration at an art college. Photography has also helped her with this.
“It made me think about the how everything in an image works together. Everything holds importance in a photo, there are all different meanings. I like the creativity and exploring different angles and techniques.”
Senior Tana O’Donnell plans on going to Kendall College for photography and graphic design.
“I love being able to take pictures with my friends. It keeps me inspired and being able to edit in class helps me enhance my creativity. I’ve learned so much about the elements and principles of design. I like documenting and showing emotions through photographs.”
Photography can help an individual in many ways from enhancing creativity to broadening the understanding of the art.
“This class helped me further my understanding of design. It has gone into depth explaining all of the basic elements and principles of design and how it’s used in photography. I like being able to express how I feel,” senior Rebecca Meisel comments.
Even if a student does not plan on keeping photography as a career, it can be a hobby used throughout the rest of his/her life.
Chrissy Jenks, a senior, another third year photography student, spoke about how photography altered her view of the world.
“It has completely changed my perspective. Because my view has changed photography has literally influenced every part of my life. It has boosted my creativity and let me feel the satisfaction of capturing an idea.”
Photography is the most popular art class with well over 200 students each year. The growth of the advance classes also rises every year. Presently, there is no more room for expansion because of the recent increase in students. It is a hugely successful class proving art is not lost and will continue to be on the rise.