Color It Orange show exhibits county’s top high school artists at LCAD gallery


A fresh perspective on art careers was offered to the students who attended the opening of the Color It Orange exhibition at the LCAD Gallery. This annual show, now in its 49th year, features selected work from high schoolers throughout Orange County.

“The kids love being part of an art show,” said teacher Samantha Squieri of her students at Beckman High School in Tustin. “They see this and start to believe ‘I can be an artist.’ It’s really exciting.”

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Photos by Theresa Keegan

Art teacher Samantha Squieri takes time during the opening of “Color It Orange” to talk with students and parents about the comprehensive art program offered at Beckman High School

Certainly, those on display have already proven their artistic mettle – the 84 pieces in the show were chosen from almost 800 that were submitted for consideration. The competition was expanded because this year the show organizers also worked with Scott Fitzpatrick, coordinator of arts for the Orange County Department of Education, which puts on a variety of shows throughout the county each spring, featuring students in all grade levels.

“We have almost every high school joining in now,” said Bryan Hegge, LCAD gallery director. “The idea is to elevate this to show what art at a high school can be. Everybody in here is an accomplished artist.”

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The “Color It Orange” show also includes ceramics and sculpture. This piece entitled ‘Sushi’ is by Frances Nguyen of Pacifica High School.

The gallery is filled with a combination of powerful oils, delicate watercolors, bold graphics and even ceramics and sculptures. There are still life and action pictures, some true to an original scene, others pulled entirely from a student’s imagination.

On opening night, April 4, proud parents snapped photos of their young artists next to their displayed work. Siblings walked around while teachers talked about the benefits of art education in high school and career options. Visitors who just stopped in as part of First Thursdays Art Walk were pleasantly surprised at the quality and diversity of the artwork.

Hegge, along with Jason Umfress, director of admissions at Laguna College of Art + Design, juried the show.

“This is a showcase of the very best,” said Umfress. He explained how the selected pieces were judged on multiple factors, including technical skill, creativity and interpretation. “The level of creativity and storytelling in here is wonderful.”

In fact, Beckman freshman Joanne Lim was literally inspired by books when creating Timekeeper’s Papers. The colorful multi-medium piece was created in response to a school assignment on exploring perspective.

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Joanne Lim stands near her colorful piece “Timekeeper’s Paper” at the bottom of the display

“I just like the industrial building and the books,” she said. The Tustin resident was capturing an omniscient reader’s viewpoint by adding in the timepiece and the stars. “I’ve always liked to draw,” she said. “And it feels really nice to have my art shown.”

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Emma Murdock’s piece “A Peruvian Story” earned the Santa Margarita Catholic student a scholarship to the LCAD July program for high school students

In addition to participating in the month-long show (it closes April 21) five selected students received a scholarship to attend the upcoming special summer session at LCAD for high school students. Upon completion of the class, participants earn college credits. Recipients included: Emma Murdock, Margarita Catholic High; Aidan Phan, La Quinta High School; Ashely Lee, Beckman High School; Grace Lin, Beckman and Iman Gelogaeva, University High School.

LCAD is very committed to the Color It Orange program and its history. In fact, some current students and faculty members recall their own experience participating in Color It Orange, said Umfress.

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LCAD president Steve Brittan spoke to the overflow crowd during the opening reception, encouraging people to understand the critical role of art in society

“I hope you see how important it is to be an artist,” LCAD President Steve Brittan said to the gathered crowd. He encouraged the students, thanked the teachers and offered parents a special recognition. “You’re here in support of your child and the journey they’re going on.” He told how his own mother encouraged his sketching as a child, which ultimately propelled him to become an architect.

“You never know where art will lead,” said Brittan.

His message resonated with Kenia Pais, a junior at Santiago High School, whose self-portrait was selected for the show. It was the second self-portrait she completed and her favorite.

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Junior Kenia Pais stands next to her self-portrait, which she likes for its serious mood

“The first one I’m smiling and I’m always smiling in real life, but in this one I’m serious and I like that,” she said, flashing a bright smile as if to prove that what was captured on paper really was a fleeting moment.

While Pais has always enjoyed art since elementary school, she couldn’t imagine herself actually becoming a professional artist, yet this year she has been focusing more on art classes. When she heard how Brittan used his sketching skills to pursue architecture, it inspired her to keep at it.

“It’s like wow, this college likes my art,” she said. “And I could maybe do architecture or another career with it. It’s exciting.”

For more information about LCAD and the Color It Orange exhibit, click here.


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