Students can now check out their peers’ artwork with monthly exhibits in the remodeled PAC


Rebekah Kim

Drawing and Painting teacher Vashtty Lemus on Tuesday, Nov. 16, points to one of the student art pieces showcased in the Performing Arts Center lobby. Lemus plans to produce a new exhibit there each month featuring work from Lancers across all art classes.

Kate Yang, Editor-in-Chief

Having hosted its first show in September, the Conservatory of Fine Arts [COFA] will host monthly art galleries in the Performing Arts Center [PAC] to display the work of Sunny Hills’ art students all throughout the 2021-2022 school year. 

“Coming back from having a COVID year where everything was virtual, having a different setting where people are actually able to walk into a space and visually look at artwork really makes a difference versus seeing it virtually,” gallery director Vashtty Lemus said. 

Lemus met with COFA director Brian Wall before the school started to brainstorm and finalize the idea for a recurring event in which students from different art classes could present their work.  

“The PAC, whenever there’s an event or a show or anything that has to do with the arts, has a lot of potential audiences that can walk in there and look at the art show whether it is being displayed for a show specifically or it is being displayed because we’re waiting for the next show to go up,” Lemus said. 

The gallery exhibits pieces from students in International Baccalaureate [IB] Visual Art, Advanced Placement [AP] Art, Drawing and Painting, Special Studies and 3-D Design, she said. Black frames enclosed in glass hold the student artworks along the interior walls of the PAC and cost the school no money to purchase.

To select the gallery pieces, the art teacher said students conduct an in-class vote to narrow down the selection for Lemus, who then finalizes the lineup with her student assistants. 

“The galleries will likely be a month to a month and a half apart because we don’t really want to conflict with any of the other events happening in the PAC,” said Lemus, who teaches five Drawing and Painting classes. “This is something that we plan on continuing not only for this year, but for the future and having it be almost a recurring, novel thing.”

This is something that we plan on continuing not only for this year, but for the future and having it be almost a recurring, novel thing.”

— Vashtty Lemus

So far, the COFA program has held two gallery shows: one running from Sept. 23-24  and another running from Oct. 25-26. Lemus has yet to decide upon a fixed date for the next show in December.

Once it’s set up, those who would like to visit the gallery can only go during the two designated dates that the PAC will be open during lunch, and sometimes after school , Lemus said.

Otherwise, the only other chances students can see the work will be if the fifth-period theater teacher uses the PAC for class or an event like Dancing With the Staff is held inside the PAC. 

Junior Paul Chung, who takes IB Art, had four of his works featured in the September gallery show. He titled the four works “Beyond the Breaking of the Clouds”, “A Dream Gaining Momentum”, “Guidance of the North Star” and “Golden Polaris.”

“It felt gratifying,” Chung said. “It was more a rewarding feeling that my work paid off than it was a feeling of extreme enthusiasm, and it felt like the art I made was much grander and important displayed on the wall.”

Unable to attend the October gallery show, he said he visited the September show to to not only check on his own artwork but to also view the works of his peers.

“I imagine not many students get to see just how interesting some of the art is that is being made by their peers,” he said. “The galleries are an inspirational window into what’s possible in visual arts.” 

Especially after returning from a digitalized school year, Chung jumped at the idea of people seeing his work in-person. 

“I’m more used to sending my digital art out just as low resolution images for people to scroll by on their phones, so I was excited to have some of my work actually physically displayed for people to take in and think about, he said.” 

Freshman Lauren Bromley, who does not take any art classes, visited the October art gallery during lunch alongside her friends, and she said she thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“I was really looking forward to attending the PAC art show to see the variety of artwork and talent we have in our student body,” Bromley said. “It’s so beautiful how people can express and capture themselves through their artwork.” 

Her visit to the gallery show left a lasting impression, so she plans to continuously visit the PAC for its future shows.  

Chung said he hopes to see more students in attendance for the following gallery shows, for he believes larger audiences will heighten the motivation of the art students. 

“I hope the galleries can continue, of course for students to keep in touch with and get inspired by the school’s talented visual arts department,” Chung said.

Lemus shares similar views.

“For the art students, I hope that they get a little bit of curating practice as well as gallery exposure,” she said. “Some of the students may want to go into the art field, so being able to expose themselves to a gallery setting gives them that little extra practice, and it’s something that they can start incorporating into their resume.”

As COFA continues to organize its monthly galleries, Lemus wants to see more students come to view the art pieces in support of their fellow students. 

“It’s a good place to see the artwork that’s happening,” Lemus said. “[It’s] a good place to see what other art classes are doing [and] a good chance to see what the class is about and what you can do.”