Mayfield artists put themselves ‘out there’ to strong reviews

Mayfield artists pushed outside the familiar gates of Bellefontaine this spring, taking a bold step to put their art “out there” before critics, adjudicators and the public. The results are worthy of a standing ovation:
  • The work of six freshmen visual artists have won a place of honor on the walls of the Autry Museum of the American West for outstanding contributions to the student art exhibition titled “Visions of Equality.”
  • Members of the Instrumental Conservatory earned high praise and a gold level plaque at the “Forum Music Festival” in San Diego, attended by ensembles throughout the state.
  • Creative writer Grace Fontes ’21 won third place in the Cabrini Literary Guild essay contest, which honors critical thinking, scholarship and spirituality among Catholic high school students. Grace’s essay on the impact of climate change was inspired by her World History Class.
This comes in addition to high marks this spring for our Women’s Ensemble for their performance at a national choir competition and festival, and the nine writers who were honored for essay, poetry and journalistic works in the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Alexia Saigh ’20 collected six Scholastic photography awards.  

“For student artists and writers, being accepted and recognized by a larger community of peers and experts is very affirming,” said Kimberly Gomez, Conservatory for the Arts Director and Creative Writing instructor. “It helps their development so much to be recognized outside the gates of Mayfield.”

Visual artist instructor Cassandra Gonzales had this in mind when a major class assignment conveniently aligned with a program at the Autry inviting submissions for its Annual Student Visual Arts Exhibition, which opened last Sunday and runs through May 20.

Museum curators asked students to submit works that shared their vision and understanding for equality in the American West: “What has equality meant in the Western past? What does it mean today? And what are the ways that we might create equality for all the peoples of the West?”  

Ms. Gonzales was about to begin a unit examining the role that artists play in social justice and equality issues, focusing on how the printmaking medium is a tool for communicating messages. Students researched a topic they were passionate about and then took on the challenge of creating a wood carving that could be used over and over, like a giant stamp.

“Printmaking and posters are historic mediums for conveying messages related to social justice issues and protest movements,” Ms. Gonzales said. “Rather than a single canvas, the artist has the ability to spread the message to the masses.”

Ms. Gonzales invited them to submit their work to the Autry curators for possible selection only after they completed their class project. She wanted them to first care about their work and message, not to be worried about a competitive entry.

Students chose a variety of weighty issues: animal cruelty; an end to discrimination based on race, gender, or sexual orientation; an expression of support for the Black Lives Matter movement; better awareness of mental health issues; immigrant rights.

“This was very personal to me and it was a bit scary because I didn’t want to be judged because of my art,” said Lola Falese ’22, whose work depicted tears falling from different shades of brown designed to represent a face. “Mine was about my skin color and how I know people are suffering because there is still not equality in the world… but it’s important to make a statement in solidarity with others.”

Amelia Vasquez ’22 said she advocated for compassion for immigrants by depicting a wall with barbed wire in her carving.

“I kind of went out on a limb for this, not knowing what other people would think of my work,” Amelia said. “But it’s the fact that I tried and that I liked my work is what mattered.”

Both the class project and museum opportunity sent a strong message to students.

“I feel as artists we can express opinions in very powerful messages,” Amelia said. “It’s a different way of informing people. But when you see something in a museum it can be so impactful. It can change your perspective.”

Congratulations to Autry exhibit artists:

Lola Falese ’22
Kate Thompson ’22
Drew Valentino ’22
Amelia Velasquez ’22
Piper West ’22
Kaylee Youn ’22

And a round of applause for our Instrumental Conservatory performers:

Emma Cadena ’20
Michelle Cheng ’22
Erin Csombor ’19
Cat Layton ’21
Alana Milanese ’22
Michaela Sinclair ’21
Clarabelle Sullivan ’21
Kaitlin Thomas ’20
Alex Thomson ’20
Yalda Zadeh ’20
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.