Photo by Kyle Crawford

In their respective classes, Mehar-Un-Nisa “Mehar” Athar, IB Visual Arts student and junior, and Rachael Seidensticker, Painting 1-2 student and junior, take up their tools and work on their art projects, trying to translate whatever they harbor in their minds onto paper.

Athar said, “Recently I’ve been doing a lot of portraiture, and as my ability to paint people improves, how I understand their expressions and emotions is improving.”

For Athar and Seidensticker, as with many other art students, art has shaped how they view their surroundings.

Seidensticker said via email, “Art has given me a very detail-oriented and critical view (of) everything. Being so detail-oriented in my work, I now notice more nuances than I had been able to see previous to getting seriously into art.”

Athar said, “The most profound impact that art has had on me has been the way I see people’s faces and (my) increased attention to detail.”

According to Jen Bubp, head of the CHS art department and Art Club sponsor, art has changed her view of the world as well.

Bubp said, “For me, it’s definitely made me more appreciative (and) more diverse. (I am able) to go into a different culture and understand what I see, as opposed to being intimidated or (unsure) of how to relate. It certainly breaks down those barriers.”

More Than a Pretty Picture

According to Athar and Seidensticker, art has an aesthetic quality to it, and through their artistic studies, the two of them said they have come to appreciate the beauty of the world.

Seidensticker said, “Art has given me the ability to step back from everything and just see the world for its aesthetic and beauty. Although things can get to be pretty tough, this passion of mine enables me to forget the hardship and really appreciate the beauty of world.”

On a different note, Athar said, “When you understand art, you understand the aesthetic nature of the world around you: the composition of plants and people and divine beauty. Beyond the physical, art gives you an appreciation for the completeness of ideas and how well strung together they are in pieces of art.”

Athar’s movement to a more spiritual, rather than physical, opinion of the world demonstrates the change her perspective has undergone through art.

Rather than focusing on the material parts of artworks that inspire her, Athar said she draws inspiration from their themes.

“When you understand art, you understand the aesthetic nature of the world around you: the composition of plants and people and divine beauty. Beyond the physical, art gives you an appreciation for the completeness of ideas and how well strung together they are in pieces of art.”

Mahar Athar, IB Visual Arts student and junior

Bubp agrees with Athar and said, “When you take Art History, you see how art has been made by different hands throughout the centuries (and by) different ways of looking at life, looking at death (and) looking at women’s perspectives (and) men’s perspectives.”

For Bubp, the ideas behind art pieces aid students’ developments.

She said, “I think it just broadens the scope for students to see how the mind thinks around the world.”

Seidensticker said, “I believe that everything should be weighed with a considerable amount of thought. Art has given me a channel through which I can funnel my thoughts and emotions.”

Both Athar and Seidensticker say drawing has allowed them to appreciate art’s aesthetics; however, they also say art contains more than physical beauty. To them, art is also a thought process that requires artists to express their emotions and feelings through simple strokes on a canvas.

Art is an Outlet

By becoming involved in art, Athar and Seidensticker have also changed the way they cope with their hardships.

According to Seidensticker, “Art has most definitely helped me through some troubling times. It is an outlet of emotion and expression; it really heals.”

A study published by the Public Library of Science in July of this year supports Seidensticker’s claim that art is a healing activity. According to the researchers, by participating in visual arts production, the subjects showed great improvement in “psychological resilience from pre-intervention … to post-intervention.”

By including art in one’s life, one can have a more positive outlook on life.

Seidensticker said, “As an emotional person, (art) has given me a healthy way to deal with whatever cards I have (been) dealt, no matter the situation.”

On the other hand, Athar said she sees art as a creative rather than an emotional outlet.

“Art has really helped me sort out my ideas,” Athar said. “And in times when I feel like speech limits my ability to externalize my thoughts, my paintings feel like an extension of myself.”

Photo by Kyle Crawford

Creative Genius

To Bubp, art is a “creative outlet” for students.

She said, “I think all of us have that creative need, and for some it’s in the form of cooking and for others it’s in the form of music. But for the kids who choose art, it’s their way (of expressing) their feelings and their ways of looking at the world.”

With art, Athar has been able to exercise her creative side and develop her artistic vision.

She said, “When you create art, you use a part of your brain that is usually at constant rest. In school, everything I learn is a visual in my mind, so abstract concepts are easier to grasp.”

By constantly visualizing her thoughts and the world around her, Athar said she is able to come up with her own ideas that she is “able to piece together.”

In doing so, Athar also said she has freedom over what she creates. She said, “(I use) charcoal if I feel like screwing up a lot, and fine tip pens for everyday sketching.”

Conversely, Seidensticker said she finds her inspiration by watching other talented artists and combining their ideas with her own.

She said, “I tend to jump from medium to medium. I dabble in most everything.”

Both Athar and Seidensticker, however, said they use their eyes and views to create art.

“The way people see the world affects the way they affect the world,” Athar said. “When everything (one sees) is beautiful and intricate, (one feels) the need to add something beautiful.”

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Ellen Peng