Senior artists balance individuality and collaboration

My parents instilled in me at a young age the idea that we’ve been put on this planet to connect with other human beings. This connection comes from working together towards common goals.

The Senior Portfolio Program has existed at Colorado Academy for nearly thirty years. This advanced-level visual arts course provides students the opportunity to create a professional body of work that exemplifies individual perspective and technical proficiency, while working within a collective of fellow artists. A team of artists consists of three to four people, and this group is tasked with planning, designing, and executing a culminating art exhibition that is open to the entire community in the Ponzio Arts Center Gallery. The filmmakers’ body of work is exhibited at the CA Film Festival, as well as at a special showing at the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in May. For students, this experience curating their own group exhibits is as real-world as it gets, for they are in charge of every detail.

Retreating to advance

Last month, artists in the Senior Portfolio Program began planning for their exhibitions by participating in an all-day retreat. The objectives of the day were extensive. The artists had a consolidated amount of time to brainstorm, process, explain, and discuss nascent ideas with peers.

Through small group and large group discussions, they were expected to think deeply about the direction of their art and were asked to practice articulating to one another why their work is important. By spending the day together, they were given time to develop a closer working relationship with their peers and practiced giving and receiving feedback from one another.

Viewing the work of other artists

The artists also had the opportunity to visit the Center for Visual Arts on Santa Fe Drive. They explored the exhibit, “Collective,” and were able to see the work of multiple art collectives consisting of professional artists. The collectives were asked to create a body of work based on the theme of Humor or Activism. They witnessed how these groups of artists worked together to produce a cohesive message. CA Photography Instructor Karen Donald emphasized the importance of our visit to the gallery. “Whether it is local or international, artists do not create art in a vacuum but are influenced by the world around them,” Donald says. “By viewing the exhibition, we wanted the students to see the importance of collaboration.”

Back in the studios these past few weeks, the Seniors have been busy executing their work, participating in critiques, and supporting one other through the ups and downs of the creative process. They know that their opportunity to share their work with the CA community is rapidly approaching, and they continue to persevere together towards the culminating celebration of their high school art careers.

Please be sure to catch some of the Senior Portfolio Shows this year. They begin in mid-January and rotate every Wednesday through April.