Juniors Ryan Donovan and Anissa White will attend Art All-State
Photos and text by Steev Riccardo
OXFORD - When walking through Oxford High School, you can barely escape noticing the paintings on the walls throughout the building. They are among the unique features that gives this school a comfortable and hip "feel."
The paintings were already on the walls when current Principal Kevin Wells took the job, and he gave no thought to removing them.
“Prior to my arrival, one of my colleagues decided it would be a great idea to have the students paint on the walls, and I totally agree with it.” said Wells. “This is a school that is driven by students, and it’s for students; so I think it’s a wonderful presentation. We started a tradition over the years, where every year the senior class has its best artist do a senior mural in one of the hallways. It’s two things: one, it shows that the kids are part of the fiber of the school, and more importantly, it shows off the talents of the young artists we have.”
Wells credits former art teacher Susan Briody, who retired last year, as being “the mainstay of the art department for many years.” Upon her leaving, Briody and Wells hired someone who Briody “was very comfortable turning the department over to,” her former student Jaimee Taborda.
Art Teacher Jaimee Taborda and Anissa White
Taborda who graduated from Oxford High School in 1997, took over for her former teacher, and the transition was a smooth and easy one for the school. She had actually filled in for her predecessor in 2007-08 when Briody was on sick leave, so she wasn’t completely new to running the department.
“It’s going pretty well,” said the Gordon College School of Art graduate. “It’s really important to encourage the students to do their best work all the time. I have high standards, and that takes a little getting used to for some students, but if you raise the bar, most of the kids will reach that level, so I think that the quality of work is improving all the time. I’m hopeful in four years, when I have had the freshmen for four full years, we will see some results.”
The Oxford Art Department has about 150 students in it this year, with the most advanced class having 24 of those students."Out of those 24 kids, 6 or 7 are considering doing something with art after high school, maybe 4 of them are more serious,” said Taborda.
Oxford art students in class
Two of Taborda’s top students, juniors Anissa White and Ryan Donovan, have been accepted to Art All-State, a program for juniors at Worcester Art Museum, which takes place in May. “I was able to nominate them both, and I was shocked that they were both accepted because a lot of times they only accept one student per school.”
150 art students from all over the state will be attending. “It’s really cool to see all the students from around the state,” she said.
All the students who attend the Art All-State will collaborate on a huge installation piece that will stay at the Worcester Art Museum.
Taborda had great things to say about both White and Donovan who are two of the stars of her Art group and have been with her for over a year now.
“Anissa wants to go to art school; she works very hard to make things happen. Her peers see her as very talented and she is getting to be more of her own artist and not just do what I ask her to do. She is very focused on portfolio and getting herself ready for college.” said Taborda.
White attended St. Anne’s School in Webster and became interested in art at a young age, and it has been her passion ever since. “I was excited my sophomore year when Mrs. Taborda came because she taught us so much and we did so many projects,” said the bright-eyed junior.
She is involved in many aspects of the department, including painting, 3D design, drawing, oil paints, just to name a few. “I want to go to college for drawing and painting. My top two choices are the Hartford Art School and Mass Art in Boston.”
White, who lives with her mom Sharon Gemme and her stepfather Dan Fitzpatrick, is also in the National Honor Society and plays three sports (cross country, basketball, track) because “I really love to run, ” she says.
Donovan, on the other hand, is not sure he wants to go to school for art “but is very talented,” said Taborda. “He has grown tremendously from when I had him last year. He works hard. He is very thoughtful, and he takes in the things that I say and listens to the critique. He looks for critique of his work, which I think is very important. He has this love for art, but when he is thinking about college he is thinking about something completely different. I am hoping that Art All-State will guide him.”
“When I got here I had Mrs. Briody and she was so influential to me; I loved her personality, and her teaching was very good. She taught me how to draw faces, which is what I love to do now,” said Donovan, who is “best friends” with White. “It reflects on most of the work I do because I mostly do portraits. Mrs. Taborda has helped me improve on several things. I’m not sure I want to major in art, but I would like to do it as a personal thing.”
“I think the art program here is fantastic. We are one of the only schools where we are allowed to paint on the walls and people do take notice of that,” said Donovan, who lives with his parents Jon and Marie Donovan, “I really have grown so much in art here so I think it’s a great program.”
“It’s been a pretty interesting experience,” said White. “The art department has broadened my horizons about art and where I can take it.”
- Wednesday, 18 April 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News