2021 Honors Visual Art Exhibition


    Welcome! The 2021 Honors Visual Art Exhibition celebrates the competencies, creativity, and achievements of student artists from each Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) high school. The works on view, all made by SPPS Honors art students, demonstrate a variety of paths to artistic self-discovery—from technically disciplined to playful, from highly personal to globally minded.

    This year’s exhibition showcases a range of mediums, styles and techniques. Como Park Senior High School 11th grader Izzie delights viewers with Watercolor, a sensitive rendering of paint tubes executed masterfully in watercolor and gel marker. Naomi, a 9th grade student at Central Senior High School, created her highly detailed and colorful painting Precious Perched Pointillism Parrot. Using tempera paint, she employed the technique of pointillism in which small, distinct dots of color were applied in patterns to form an image. In her artist statement, Naomi says “ The feathers floating...suggest he just landed from flying free and the bright colors portray the happiness that the open world brings.”

    The Honors Visual Art Exhibition is a long-standing collaboration between Saint Paul Public Schools, the Minnesota Museum of American Art (the M), and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. The program celebrates 30 years of extraordinary creative talent by more than 9,500 participating high school students. The events have featured the artistic and musical talents of these students through visual art exhibitions, vocal and instrumental performances, and spoken word poetry. Students are selected to participate through auditions and art submissions.

    Please be sure and visit the M in downtown St. Paul from June 27–July 17, 2021, when large vinyls showcasing the student work will be on view on the museum’s exterior windows on 4th Street. The M is located at 350 Robert Street North, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55101.

    In conjunction with the Honors Exhibition, Honors Concert and Performing Arts students will have the opportunity to experience a pre-recorded mini-presentation where artists talk about their background, experiences as an artist, career path, and demonstrate their unique art form. Students will submit questions to the artists ahead of time for artists to answer and discuss. 

    We hope you enjoy the exhibition and we thank you for celebrating Saint Paul Public Schools’ emerging creative talent.

    Dr. Joe Gothard, Superintendent, Saint Paul Public Schools
    Nancy Ariza, Associate Curator of Learning and Engagement, Minnesota Museum of American Art 
    Christine Sagstetter, Interim President, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

  • Black and white Ink on paper drawing of a snake with floral details as skin

    Central High School, Grade 11
    Shedding Old Skin
    Ink on paper, 12” x 16”

    This Drawing shows the feeling of stepping from an unfortunate, old year, into the new, hopeful year. This transition between years was especially important from last year to this new one, since so many bad things had happened in 2020, so I was very hopeful for 2021 while creating this piece.

  • portrait of a bird, perched outside on a branch.

    Central Senior High, Grade 9
    Precious Perched Pointillism Parrot
    Tempera paint, 10” x 8”

    This painting is a portrait of my bird, perched outside on a branch. This represents freedom. The feathers floating around him suggest he just landed from flying free and the bright colors portray the happiness that the open world brings. Sometimes I feel trapped, but I remember, like my bird, the people that love me can set me free.

  • Sadie
    Central Senior High, Grade 9
    Mythical Mirage
    Graphite on paper, 12” x 8”

    This piece is a reference towards my love of fantasy. In this drawing, I wanted to show how something that is not inherently magical or special can bring about a whimsical, make-believe feeling if you look at it the right way. I used tons of contrast and more cartoonish elements to help accentuate this theme.

  • figure bent over supporting the flower on her stomach

    Central Senior High, Grade 12
    Girl and Her Flower
    Oil on board, 11” x 24”

    My painting was inspired by the artwork of Takashi Murakami and highlights the role of consumerism and iconization in present-day media and how it shapes people. The imagery that conveys my original idea is that of the figure bent over supporting the flower on her stomach. This to me represents my original idea of ‘bending over backward’ to support an idea or person popularized by the media today.

  • lively multi-layered drawing

    Central Senior High, Grade 12
    Graphite, ink, and marker on paper, 22.2" x 30"

    Inspired by my parents’ stories about Japan and Julie Mehretu’s lively multi-layered drawings about society, I explored the religious and sociological facets of Japanese culture. This work captures the spiritual metaphysics of Japanese culture in an energetic and emotional presentation. By utilizing multi-layered drawing on large paper, Interwoven conveys both the vast power of Japanese Kami and its underlying presence in everything-- be it time, space, matter and interpersonal relationships.

  • Girl sitting by window half of face in shadow

    Central Senior High, Grade 11
    Fall Perspective
    Digital photography, 8” x 10”

    There is a dark and light perspective to art. This photo helped me realize the seasons can influence emotion. Fall conveys dark with shortened daylight, and the colors of nature keep it light.

  • low angle photo looking at the outside of a movie theatre and it's reflection in a puddle

    Como Park Senior High, Grade 12
    Show’s Over, Kids!
    Digital photography, 10” x 8”

    When I took this picture, I made up this little story in my head. Imagine that this place is an old, local theater that everyone loves so dearly. Every Tuesdays and Thursdays, the theater bustles a lot more compared to the other days because those are the days when everyone’s favorite shows are live. The theater closes on the weekends so the employees who work there will be able to spend time with their families. Since the theater and buildings looked aged, I wanted to capture that feeling.

  • drawing of girl sticking her tongue out with finger in peace signs pointing down over her face in various shades of pink

    Como Park Senior High, Grade 12
    Pink Rebellion
    Digital painting, 8.2” x 7”

    Painting with a limited color range is difficult but it challenges your mind, making you think outside the box and improve how you approach painting. Pink was a color I had very limited experience with, I decided to use it to create an aesthetically pleasing artwork.

  • Picture of older woman's side profile with rings drawn in the background.

    Como Park Senior High, Grade 12
    Digital photography, 11” x 13”

    My grandma has always guided my artwork; she herself is an artist who works with nature as her tools. I wanted to use layers to show her depth of knowledge and the imagery of trees to demonstrate her connection to the woods where she lives.

  • Drawing of a faceless person sitting infront of tv screens with elbows resting on a table and hands in a fist under chin.

    Como Park Senior High, Grade 10
    Among Us
    Marker, 8.5" x 11"

    In moments of life or death, who can you trust? An artwork that represents, in my personal opinion, how a game of “Among Us” goes. You never know who is your friend and who is scheming a plan behind your back.

  • black and white drawing of a girl staring straight ahead

    Como Park Senior High, Grade 12
    Deeper Value
    Marker, 12” x 14”

    There is always a significant value of what makes an art piece more real. The procedure of this ink drawing captures the concept of shades through multiple techniques I used such as scribbling, cross-hatching, and stippling. After carefully observing the portrait of this girl, I was able to piece down the darker and light areas. These three techniques combined created the illusion of depth and value, bringing out the realism of the art.

  • painting of paint tubes

    Como Park Senior High, Grade 11
    Watercolor and gel pen, 10" x 7"

    I drew this piece to show the beauty in a simple thing. These paint tubes were scattered on my desk and I felt motivated to paint them just to appreciate their part in my day to day life as well as their representation of my love of art. My messy art desk has a lot of meaning to me and I wanted to represent that in a still life.

  • Abstract chalk pastel with pen drawing of a cheetah face

    Como Park Senior High, Grade 11
    Chalk pastel, 6" x 9"

    I drew this to make my drawing glow while portraying a cheetah in it. I was always optimistic about this animal and I finally portrayed it as an art. I drew this by transforming a preserved cheetah at an exhibit and tried to put down all details about it.

  • black and white digital drawing of diagonal pliers

    Creative Arts Secondary School, Grade 9
    Giving a Hand
    Digital drawing, 8” x 10”

    The diagonal pliers standing represents giving a hand to somebody, helping somebody take another step. The reason why it's darker around the handles is because when you’re using diagonal pliers you use the handle to clamp off the wires/etc, making you cut off unnecessary things, implying that in my drawing they represent helping someone with removing the superfluous things like pressure.

  • Three chalk pastel drawing of a flower from outline to detailed.

    Hsae Nay Htoo
    Como Park Senior High, Grade 9
    Chalk pastel, triptych, each 6" x 9"

  • Colored pencil drawing of a woman wearing an astronaut helmet

    Creative Arts Secondary School, Grade 10
    Ripley’s Courage
    Colored pencil, 7.5” x 9”

    It can be very difficult to have courage during times of trouble, but it is always important to step up and do what is right. While making this piece, I learned a lot about how light reflects off of different objects and how it affects the color of those objects. When light shines upon an object, the result is often a beautiful combination of different colors, shadows, and values.

  • digital drawing of a moon goddess

    Creative Arts Secondary School, Grade 10
    The Moon
    Digital drawing, using ibisPaint X, 1200 x 955 px

    My piece is a moon goddess who weeps for humanity's future. What will they do to her and their planet? May the mother of the stars tell her story.

  • reflection of a tree in froze puddle

    Gordon Parks High School, Grade 12
    Reflection of the Two Souls
    Digital photography, 3.125" x 5.5"

    I discovered multiple forms of nature while in the process of nature. The reflection of the picture shows true colors.

  • portrait of a young woman in East African traditional outfit with henna on her hand

    Highland Park Senior High, Grade 12
    Eastern Africa; Black Crown
    Watercolor and pen, 10" x 12"

    This is a portrait of a young woman, who holds power and is celebrated by her people. The type of clothing and accessories is worn by brides and people of power. The hair style is very formal which represents power. This East African traditional outfit and henna on her hand represents that she is celebrated and is mostly practiced during Ceremonies in Eritrean culture. While the red silk on the edge of her dress and scarf represents the royal she is.

  • Self portrait painting with a collage made up of old letters and notes as the background

    Highland Park Senior High, Grade 10
    Self Portrait
    Mixed media and acrylic on canvas, 12” x 16”

    This piece focuses on identity. There are some things about me that will always stay the same. The background is a collage made up of old letters and notes that are emotionally significant to me. Experiences I have had and people in my life make me the person I am today. There are other aspects of my identity that are ever changing, represented by the flowers.

  • Acrylic on canvas self portrait of a young female

    Highland Park Senior High, Grade 11
    Studied Through the Screen
    Acrylic on canvas, 8” x 10”

    After a year at home, myself and my peers have needed to build relationships, introduce ourselves, and be evaluated through a screen. Studying my face through electronic images and midnight FaceTime calls, this self-portrait was also born out of a digital portrayal of myself. This work explores the blurred, muddled version of me through a blue-light screen.

  • colorful Oil pastel on canvas self portrait

    Highland Park Senior High, Grade 12
    The Optimist
    Oil pastel on canvas board, 8” x 10”

    This piece is trying to capture one of the several sides of my personality. When things are going well, either with my art, with school, or in relationships, I am very optimistic. I feel in control, proud of myself, I feel happy. That being said I'm a little bit of a perfectionist, so when things start to go bad the pessimist comes out. I start to doubt myself and lose confidence in my abilities, or who I am. Although both sides of me still exist the more I acknowledge them the better I feel.

  • Ebony pencil on paper self portrait drawing

    Highland Park Senior High, Grade 9
    Self portrait
    Ebony pencil on paper, 11” x 14”

    My intention with this drawing was to try my best at one of my first attempts of realistic art. I discovered that I actually like creating realistic art along with my own style I've created over the years. This drawing was an opportunity to show what I can do and I gave it my best shot, and I'm really proud of it.

  • Graphite and charcoal self portrait of young male

    Highland Park Senior High, Grade 10
    Self Portrait
    Graphite and charcoal on paper, 9” x 10”

    Throughout the creation of this piece, I learned a lot about realism and the art of portraiture. I was able to improve myself as an artist by exploring the multitude of graphite drawing techniques to portray more emotion in my artwork.

  • Graphite and soft pastel self portrait of young male with glasses

    Highland Park Senior High, Grade 12
    Self Portrait
    Graphite and soft pastel on paper, 5.5” x 8.5”

    In the process of making this, I wanted to practice proportion and realism. I also learned how to apply highlights to a drawing and give it a sense of volume. Using toned paper helped add to the range of values I could use. Since I'm not used to doing realistic drawings, I learned a lot throughout the creation of this self portrait.

  • Abstract marker and colored pencil of african american woman

    Humboldt High School, Grade 10
    The Unspoken Words of an African American Woman
    Marker and colored pencils, 18” x 24” 

    My goal with this piece is to let people know that every black woman has different insecurities and that we also need to be treated with mutual respect. We come from a country with horrendous stereotypes, black women have been looked down upon for years. I'm just here to let you know as a black woman I've witnessed many like me being ridiculed and abused and I feel like it's our job to tell them they're wrong. Nobody knows our stories, nobody knows our journeys, our climbs, our downfalls and then after all that, we´re still looked at the same. We need to know the differences between our souls and our bodies. We can glamorize our shell, we can hide behind beauty, we can hide behind fancy clothes and hoop earrings but we can not change our souls and what we feel we want to say but can't. I made this piece to show you that we can be all these things but just know there is a soul behind that shell that has been through more than you can imagine.

  • drawing of the back of a camera with a girl overlooking the ocean on the screen

    Pa Jar
    Johnson Senior High, Grade
    Only I Can See
    Colored pastel, 8.5” x 5.5”

    This piece shows that sometimes it’s hard to see what people see in you. In this modern world, social media has influenced many people about the way they look and how they should see themselves, rather than finding their own way to look at themselves and appreciate it.

  • Leona
    Johnson Senior High, Grade
    Sketchbook paper, triptych, each 7” x 8.8”

    The habitats of our world could change in many ways depending on how we as humans chose to live. This triptych explores the feelings I have regarding environmental changes.

  • Drawing of bald person with hands coming out of head with a butterfly

    Johnson Senior High, Grade 12
    Humpty Dumpty
    Sketchbook, 5.5” x 8.5”

    I wanted to create a full visual representation of a person letting go and how it might look and feel for a person that is doing so. It is kind of more of a personal thing and it is something that everyone deals with; having something, someone or a situation that they can't seem to let go, forgive and move on, but they really need and should let it go to make themselves happier in the present.

  • Marker drawing of a drago and colorful flower

    Johnson Senior High, Grade 11
    Dragon Eye
    Shrink film and marker

    This represents my interest in how beautiful dragons and flowers can be.

  • Pink tree flower made out of shrink film

    Pa Dong
    Johnson Senior High, Grade 11
    The Tree Flower
    Shrink film and marker

    The tree flower symbolizes the meaning of my name and where I got it from. What I discover In the process of creating this piece was that I feel very attached and happy while making this flower.

  • drawing of red flower hanging on a chair with black and white roses as the background

    Johnson Senior High, Grade 11
    Shrink film and permanent marker, 4” x 4” 

    I wanted to create a piece that represents my childhood. Flowers remind me of summer. I had amazing and fun summers with family, especially my grandma. My grandma lived with my family and I and every summer she would plant flowers and vegetables, so the flower piece represented her. While creating this I discovered my interests in art. I pieced my memories and connections together and created an art piece that now has sentimental and a deep meaning to it.

  • colored pencil drawing of a girl is wearing traditional Hmong clothes

    LEAP High School, Grade 11
    Hmong Girl
    Colored pencil and graphite, 8.5" x 11"

    The story I want to tell is about Hmong history and culture. The girl is wearing traditional Hmong clothes. Hmong clothes are very beautiful. At Hmong new year Hmong people wear their best clothes to go find their partner. The flowers in the picture are poppy flowers. Hmong people used to grow the flowers to make opium. Hmong people use the opium as medicine and as money. I wanted to show my culture and how beautiful the clothes are. I wanted to use color pencils because the colors are nice and easy to use. I look at some of my old Hmong clothes and draw them. I try my best to draw realistic to show how beautiful the clothes are. I discovered connections to my family. I learned how my parents grew up having to grow the flowers.

    They have to take care of the flowers and know how to use them to make the medicine. I learned they had to work very hard. Sometimes people used the medicine too much and they needed to use it all the time. Many people don't know about Hmong people. Many Hmong people don't know about Hmong history. I want to make art that teaches history﹣the history of the Hmong people.

  • colored pencil drawing of a woman standing outside in Hmong clothing holding snow.

    LEAP High School, Grade 11
    Beautiful White Snow
    Colored pencil and graphite, 8.5" x 11"

    The story told about the first time I saw snow fall in my first winter in America. It told about my first time touching and playing with snow. It was cold and deadly, but at the same time very beautiful. It is a new experience for me because in my home country of Laos we have a very hot climate year round, but in the USA there are a lot of different seasons throughout the year. Each individual season is interesting and unique in their own way. I love them all! I picked realistic style because I wanted it to bring out the true beauty in Nature. I used color pencils because they are more fine and easier to control than crayons. I used lines straight for the house, textures for the trees and snow. I used value for my hair and my pants. I discovered how to use different types of patterns to draw and enriched my artwork.