Arts-Based Research Projects Express Thematic Variety

The Berkeley International High School (BIHS) Arts-Based Research Showcase, also known as the IB Art Show, is a student-based gallery that first opened for class visits on April 19 in the Berkeley Community Theater Gallery. BIHS students have compiled pieces of art to broadcast themes that they feel are important to the student body. Most artists worked on several pieces that tied into a broader topic. From hearts to the human body, the art displayed touched on several issues and experiences that many people face on a daily basis.

Calvin Beeman-Weber, a BIHS senior artist in the IB Art Show, spoke to what he wants to convey with his art. “I hope my art is whimsical, that it confuses people when they first see it so they have to take some time to figure out what’s going on. I would call it strange,” he said. Beeman-Weber’s art was inspired by something unexpected. He found beauty in root vegetables, something that wouldn’t necessarily inspire everyone, and turned it into art all students could enjoy. “I was inspired by root vegetables. I like their appearance: The colors, shapes, and general aesthetic is all really appealing to me. I thought I could use their aesthetic to make some nice art!” Beeman-Weber said.    

Though the artists applied themes that were important to them, there was hope that viewers of their pieces would also feel a connection to the art. “I want people to appreciate everyday art, specifically the everyday artistic pieces that are root vegetables. Also to think about their connection to nature,” Beeman-Weber hoped. Although Beeman-Weber was inspired by objects that not everyone feels connected to, his overall message was popular and resonated with the student body.

Sadie Fleig, a junior in BIHS, also explained the purpose of the artwork she produced for the art show. Fleig’s art consists mostly of sculptures and paintings. “One of my inspirations was a German artist named Gerhard Richter, because he could express so much through his work. Another inspiration was talking to a variety of people and listening to how they described their experience with my topic,” Fleig added. The artists that were featured led an investigation into the themes they chose to represent. This furthered their understanding of the topics they chose and led to artwork that accurately represented them.

Beeman-Weber’s art was inspired by something unexpected. He found beauty in root vegetables, something that wouldn’t necessarily inspire everyone, and turned it into art all students could enjoy.

“My investigation was on grief and I wanted to try and show literal representations of how grief felt. I also wanted people to think about the different ways people grieve and how it can affect everyone differently,” Fleig explained. Her artwork demonstrated the feeling of grief and how it is portrayed differently by each individual.

Braelyn Wekwerth

Similarly, featured artist Yasmeen OBrien, a BIHS junior, reflected on her experiences and the impact they’ve had on her art. She focused on emotions and how they are perceived and expressed by others. This topic is relevant to many high school students since lots of them feel pressured to act and be seen in a certain way.

O’Brien said, “I would describe my art pieces as very personal to my own experience of dealing with my emotions, but also relatable to others. They are the ways I express my understanding of emotions and how humans express them.”

O’Brien was inspired by her curiosity and willingness to learn and grow. “I was very curious about the different ways that people express their emotions because I always felt like I didn’t quite express mine the way I was ‘supposed to,’ O’Brien shared. Additionally, O’Brien realized, “Often times, the emotion I was showing on the outside to everyone was not what I was actually feeling internally. I chose to make art about that feeling because a lot of people experience it and I wanted to create something that people could connect with.”

Braelyn Wekwerth

Although many pieces included in the art show touched on common interests, O’Brien made a point to focus on something she knew her peers faced. “I hoped to send my peers the message that there are many different ways of expressing your emotions, there is no ‘right way.’ Every one expresses themselves differently and our differences make us who we are. There is beauty in our own self expression,” said O’Brien. Her art was easy for students to connect with since it touched on feelings that usually come with the high school experience. This made her, and others students’ art very interesting to look at and think about.

The IB Art Show is a platform for many artists to connect on a variety of topics. It gives the students an opportunity to learn through art carefully made by the students of BIHS. This exposition of student research was a learning experience that led to many ideas and connections being formed.

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