June 6, 2012

“Place as Portrait”: Student Art On Display at Princeton High School

STUDENTS AND ART: Posing in front of a collaborative drawing project at a recent PHS art show were (top row, from left): Veronika Bychkova, professional artist Sara Schneckloth, Jane Robertson, Gabriella Shypula, Allegra Dobson, and teacher-supervisor Scott Cameron; (bottom row, from left): Arts Council curator, Marsha Levin-Rojer, Jade Levine, and Emily Hunt. (Photo by Alex Levine.)

Art projects by students are currently on display in several venues at Princeton High School, and today, Wednesday, June 6, is, in fact, the only day the public can view upperclassmen’s larger installations in Room 172, where students in Studio Art 3 and 4 were asked to produce multi-media works that reflect the concept of “place as portrait.”

Room 172 is presided over by John Kavalos, who teaches painting, drawing, and advanced placement (AP) art history at PHS. He also teaches at Cooper Union, and the combination is important to him; frequent changes in college and university art curricula, he said, demand corresponding adjustments in the curricula that prepare high school students to move on.

In addition to a dense wall of flowers and greenery produced by several students, others responded to the notion of “place as portrait” with their own cubicle-filled environments.

“They’re talented kids,” said Mr. Kavalos. “The challenges are met.” In addition to proving their mettle in this large exhibit, students‘ talents have been recognized this year by senior acceptances at schools like Cooper Union and Rhode Island School of Design.

Those who miss the Wednesday show, which continues throughout the day, can watch for a student-produced documentary about the project that will appear soon on the studio’s blog and PRS website.

Next door, more traditional portraits were the focus of students in Mollie Murphy’s art class one morning this week. Ms. Murphy had tweaked tradition, though, by having students create a “fantasy” self on one-half of the photographs she took of each student.

Students at PHS attend art classes every day and, like Mr. Kavalos, Ms. Murphy speaks of them appreciatively. Gazing around a room of approximately 25 students, she quietly reported that there were “at least five brilliant, gifted” students who will probably go on to careers in art. Noting that “artists are problem-solvers,” Ms. Murphy, who is an artist herself, cited the compelling need of artists to create.


In Numina, PHS’s own art gallery, the fruits of assignments given to students throughout the year are currently on display.

“There are no themes at this show,” said advisor Scott Cameron, and that is apparent in the varied array of creations that fill the space. Along with Nick Fulginitis’s wire profile, there are pencil sketches of musicians by Tiffany H. Tang, and what looks like prehistoric wall painting by Lynn DiFerdinando. A black and white collage depicting a flying superhero comes from the imagination of Anthony Teng, and Nora Schultz pays tribute to Escher with an intricate, eye-twisting design. A skirt made out of candy wrappers by Eugenie Hossain is recycling at its most whimsical. Some “altered books” represent a “unique genre” this year, reported Mr. Cameron.

In the back of the room, visitors are welcomed to the Numina Gallery Zoo, where papier-mâché animals populate an aquarium, an aviary, and a jungle.

The Numina show was mounted by gallery co-directors Gaby Shypula and Veronika Bychkova, along with other students putting in after-school hours. “They do everything,” Mr. Cameron said, from identifying the focus of a new show, to arranging and hanging the art, to providing refreshments for opening receptions.

Numina Gallery will also be open on Wednesday, June 6, from 2 to 5 p.m. Those interested in visiting at other times are asked to contact Mr. Cameron at Scott_Cameron@monet.prs.k12.nj.us.