Portfolio class debuts work at annual show, continues to impress

Photo Credit: Alexandra Cline
Senior portfolio art students pose in the promotional poster for their show.

From mixed media photography to digital animation, Flint Hill’s Portfolio Art students possess a wide range of talents and create works encompassing multiple styles. On April 27, the Portfolio Class displayed its work in a gallery exhibition for the enjoyment of both the Flint Hill community and the public.

Portfolio Art, comprised of Seniors Jack McCaffrey, Madeleine Roodberg, Laura Statman, Sydney Stiffler, Danielle Wallace, and [name removed at request of alum], is the most advanced art class offered in the Upper School and is open to those who complete Art I, Art II, and Art III. These students each create 20 works, or the equivalent in their given medium, throughout the course of the year.

“The purpose is really to allow senior artists to get exposure to people who appreciate artwork and to practice having a gallery exhibition and the work going into it,” said Wallace, who received this year’s Purchase Award at the Fine Arts Awards Ceremony and will be attending the College of William and Mary in the fall to double major in Studio Art and an undecided field.

The show’s title, Small Talk, boasts two distinct meanings. The first word references the physical size of the artists’ pieces, as all work was created on canvases smaller than 18×24 this year. The second part addresses the artists’ desire to project a message through their art and create a narrative for each piece.

“It’s really about telling stories with our work, so during the show, we stand around our pieces to discuss the process and the finished result,” said Wallace.

In order to produce such narratives however, each student is required to complete 10 hours per week of studio time outside the classroom. In the days before the exhibition, known as hanging weekend, all artists spend several hours at school preparing for the reveal of their work. This year, the students decided to integrate their pieces throughout the gallery, instead of having each artist’s body of work shown individually in separate areas.

“Figuring out which pieces to put next to each other was a challenge since we don’t discuss that until hanging weekend starts,” said Roodberg, who will study photography at New York University in the fall. “All in all, though, I think the whole process came together and we were able to finish prepping earlier than in the past.”

For Roodberg, who focuses on mixed media photography or the process of altering photographs using other artistic mediums, the art show represents a culminating event for the budding artists.

“We each created a body of art that’s developed with our own skills and focus, and this is our time to show people our growth and the effort and thought we’ve put into our work,” she said. “It means so much to all of us because it’s something so personal that’s been generated solely by us.”

McCaffrey, who focuses on digital animation, also realizes the value of determination and continually strives to better his work. He recently won the Virginia Film Festival’s High School Director Competition for his Claymation film “Magic Marker” and will attend Ringling College of Art and Design to pursue a career in the field.

“I don’t usually get to see people’s reactions to my work in-person, and I was happy to hear the feedback people provided,” said McCaffrey. “This show was good practice in being able to talk about the films with viewers and made me realize how much work goes into the setup for these shows.”

For Statman, a budding cartoonist, the show presents an opportunity for her to discuss the boundaries between humans and nature. A creator of several graphic novels, she hopes to continue cartooning as a profession, beginning with her studies at the School of Visual Arts.

“My art is very dream-like and I really want to go beyond the traditional boundaries,” she said.

Though some of the students will choose to attend college for art, for others it provides a final opportunity to showcase their work to an audience. Nonetheless, each has attained valuable insight into the value of hard work and the resulting potential for great success.