WHHS falls for art at seasonal art show


Nadya Ellerhorst

As a student in AP 2-D Art and Design, SENIOR Nawame Kitil’s personal concentration is “the institutional suppression of people of color, specifically black people.” Kitil uses her artwork as powerful social commentary, as in the above watercolor piece, where she seeks to draw attention to “the fact that a lot of trans women are being killed… specifically trans women who are black… or of color.”

On Thursday, Nov. 7, the WHHS’s art department debuted the recent work of its students at the annual Fall Art Show, one of two art shows put on at WHHS this year. Artists from the seventh grade to SENIORS expressed their artistic talents through a variety of media, from photography to oil paintings to architectural models.

The art that was presented at the show had a great impact on those who witnessed it, but had greater meaning to the artists. SENIOR Nawame Kitil uses art to express issues of social justice, especially in her piece where she tackles the recent murders of transgender women of color. “I chose to represent… the woman looking straight at the person who is viewing it, and daring you to look away,” Kitil said. In this piece, she is using art not only to impart emotion but also to express societal injustice. This emphasis shows the power that art can bring in pursuing social change and justice.

Another artist, AP 2-D Art and Design student Ella Knellinger, ’21, uses her artwork to portray “human motion and emotions.” The human face is a particular focus of her artwork, as she uses it to express the emotions of her subject matter. WHHS’s artists are using their skills to make deeper statements about humanity and the human experience.

David Whittaker, ‘21, was featured among the many artists from Donald Stocker’s classes at the show. Whittaker has been very happy with his experiences in WHHS’ photography programs. “Film photography definitely has a lot more to it than just if you have a regular camera,” Whittaker said. Photography students get to interact with professional equipment. In fact, the art department contains an extensive dark-room specifically for the production of photographs and is used in Stocker’s AP classes.

Other students have used WHHS’s photography program as a means to explore Cincinnati and its urban eccentricities. One photography student, Matthew Gambrel, ‘21, uses his photography to capture the world around him, in particular, a church in an urban setting. “I just thought that it was really good because it had a darker background that kind of portrayed life in the city,” Gambrel said. Photography has allowed WHHS students to examine their world from a new lens.

You could try a different class every semester for the rest of your school life and not hit everything that we do.”

— AP Studio Art teacher, Donald Stocker

Many of the students who presented their artwork in the show were taking an AP Studio Art class. These are the premier classes in the WHHS art department where students can specialize in thematic concentrations, such as SENIOR William Heidelberg, whose “concentration right now is family members.”

Some students have expanded upon their artwork outside the classroom, including Alexandra Franz, ‘23. Recently, she won regional acclaim for her work, receiving the CAC Artists’ Choice award at the Greater Cincinnati High School Art Students Plein Air Arts Competition for her piece “Purple Tree.”

As an AP Studio Art: Drawing student, she is working to master a variety of skills in the field of visual arts. “I focus on realism and I like to explore mediums,” Franz said. Those mediums include oil paint, watercolor, and pastel among others. The AP Studio Art program allows students who have taken art at WHHS to fully express their artistic talents.

Classes such as AP Studio Art and Photography are just a sliver of the vast opportunities offered by the WHHS art department. “There is pretty much whatever you want to try out. So you could try a different class every semester for the rest of your school life and not hit everything that we do,” Stocker said.

Students who may have not considered taking an art class would be greatly impressed with how the wide variety of classes gives students of all skill levels a chance to participate and learn.

When asked if they plan to pursue art in college, the artists’ responses were mixed. “I’m not sure that I’ll be going to college for art but I’ll definitely be continuing it through college,” Knellinger said.

Similarly, one photography student, SENIOR Nicole Curley, responded positively. “I just got into Ohio University for photojournalism,” Curley said. WHHS’s art program opens up a future for study in the fine arts.

The Fall Art Show once again illustrated WHHS’ emphasis on a classical education that includes a focus on the liberal arts, especially the fine arts, nurturing the whole student.

Click here for more Fall Art Show photos