Honors art students showcase their creative talents
By the time Sunday night rolls around, most Marian girls are rushing to finish whatever homework they’ve been putting off all weekend. For most, this means finishing up papers or trying to solve some last minute math problems. For the juniors and seniors in Honors Art III, this means spending hours trying to crank out “boxes.”
Honors Art III is no cake walk. The students in the class spend the first semester, and some of the second, working on a 17’ by 23’ inch, super-realistic self portrait. All of the pictures are taken by the students. The project is broken down by a huge grid, leaving the students with hundreds of boxes that are to be filled exactly as they look in the original image.
“The hardest part was making sure every little detail was perfect. It’s worth it in the end, but you spend three months of your life on it,” junior Elizabeth Brison said.
“I hated having to go box by box, because I like doing big sketches all at one time. I had to make sure I was accurately drawing things,”senior Liz McKenzie said. “I spent 15 hours on it every Sunday for sure, but it’s definitely worth it. When I finished I was crying I was so happy.”
“The hardest part is not procrastinating,” junior Tyra Carstens said. “I probably spent about 15 hours a week on it.”
Despite the many hours of work, Huerter, Carstens, McKenzie and Brison all said they would recommend the class.
“My advice for people considering Honors Art III would be to do it!” senior Brooke Huerter said.
“You’re going to cry, but it’s okay,” Brison said.
Get to know me: Fine arts teachers question & answer
sydneymonahan & ellierommelfanger
Mr. Jeremy Cisco
Q: What is your favorite color and why?
A: My favorite color is red because it is so intense and can evoke strong emotions.
Q: How is Fern (your daughter)? Do you hope she follows in her parent’s footsteps and pursues a career in the arts?
A: She’s getting very tall, and she is so happy most of the time. To be completely honest, no, because she will be broke. We want her to be a very well-rounded, which will include some art, but we don’t want to limit her talents.
Mrs. Ashley Bauer
Q: What is your educational background, and how has it helped you?
A: I have a bachelor’s degree in studio art, so I technically just have an endorsement to teach. I think this has really helped me in the way that I’m not just a teacher who knows how to teach a skill, but I know the process behind the art and have experience with art in the real world.
Q: What would you tell a student who thinks they are bad at art/music?
A: Every artist was once an amateur.
Mr. Paul Niebalski
Q: What inspired you to become a music teacher?
A: In high school, everything I liked was teaching-centered. Finally, in college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney I got really involved with the marching band and music program. I eventually decided I didn’t really want to do music for a living, so I combined my high school teaching dreams and college love for music and became a music teacher.
Q: What is your favorite thing to teach in music?
A: I get jazzed about teaching, how air helps sounds and how body can influence these things. It is a concept that has drastically improved my own personal music abilities. I love passing that down to my students and seeing the difference it can make.
Ms. Lauren Morrissey
Q: What advice would you give to high schoolers wanting to pursue the arts?
A: The arts are truly a magnificent way to do what you love and have an impact on the world. Even if my students choose another career path, I hope they never stop singing, making music and recognizing the beauty in the world.
Q: What would you tell a student who thinks she is bad at music?
A: Scientific studies have proven that every human has the capacity to learn how to sing. Just like any skill, if you practice and you want to learn, you can do it.
SWC volunteers critiqued by opera star
Ready, set, sing! Marian’s Select Women’s Choir received a treat on Wednesday, Jan. 11 when three members had the opportunity to sing in front of their peers and be critiqued by Deanna Breiwick, an Opera Omaha performer and Juilliard graduate.
According to information provided by Opera Omaha, Breiwick is “a 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finalist, a 2012 Grand Prize Winner of the Sullivan Foundation Vocal Competition and a First Prize Winner of the Gerda Lissner Foundation Vocal Competition.”
Seniors Juliet Kolterman and Elise Langenfeld and junior Megan Doehner each sang a solo in Marian’s Performing Arts Center as their peers and the Select Women’s Choir teacher, Ms. Lauren Morrissey,
watched on. The three students selected to be critiqued prepared for their performances by practicing their pieces with the Select Women’s Choir’s accompanist, Mr. Tim DiBlasi.
The critiques went on for an hour, which included the three girls’ performances, an exclusive performance from Breiwick herself and time for Breiwick to answer questions asked by choir members.
The first student to perform was Kolterman, who sang “Come raggio di sol” by Antonio Caldara. “I practiced by practicing with my voice teacher and singing along with a couple YouTube videos,” Kolterman said. “[Breiwick] helped me by suggesting that I breathe with my whole torso, like in the back of my ribs, as well as my diaphragm.”
Next, Langenfeld sang “O mio babbino caro” by Puccini. Langenfeld sang this Italian aria while Breiwick instructed her throughout her performance.
“[Breiwick] really helped me with breath control and phrasing. I found it interesting that she said our nasal cavities are like a cathedral in our heads that resonate the sound,” Langenfeld said.
Doehner followed with “Sure on this Shining Night” by Samuel Barber. “I really liked how [Breiwick] helped us. It was like she knew exactly what was going on in my body and helped me harness my sound to reach its full potential. Working with her really made me realize that anyone can sing like that, it just takes a good teacher and a ton of practice. She helped me grow as a musician, and I feel a lot more confident in how I sing,” Doehner said.
During the students’ critiques, Breiwick taught them new strategies to enhance their performances. Some of these techniques included expanding one’s rib cage when breathing, firmly placing one’s feet on the ground and swaying to keep one’s air flow consistent. While using Breiwick’s advice, the three students sang their pieces again to see the difference in their performances.
“Some of her teaching strategies were a little foreign to me. To get me to loosen up and move my air around, she held my sides and shook me back and forth while I sang. It was a little out of my comfort zone, but it was cool to experiment with new ways to shape my sound,” Doehner said.
Caroline Drew draws on artistic inspiration
Marian is jam-packed full of talent, from painters to mathematical geniuses, and everything in between. Most people can look at a girl and instantly associate her with what she is great at, however one girl in particular is often overlooked.
Never to be seen without a choker or a smile, sophomore Caroline Drew carries an unmatched ethos that is hard to put a finger on.
She is soft-spoken, but she speaks with a profound confidence and wisdom that one does not come across often.
Most people know very little about how successful Drew is outside of the classroom, and she rarely talks about it herself due to her humble nature.
Drew is part of the Kent Bellows Mentoring Program, which is arguably the most prestigious art program that Omaha has to offer for teenagers.
Founded in 2007 and located at the Joslyn Art Museum, Kent Bellows offers seven programs, ranging from clay media to urban art.
Acceptance to these programs is extremely competitive, and Drew has been part of the music program for three semesters.
“I originally applied because I wanted to advance in my music education and overcome my insecurities about putting my music out there,” Drew said.
The application process typically starts with an online application. If the committee sees potential in the application, the person is then brought in for an interview.
In order to claim her spot, Drew submitted some of her visual art, played a song for them and showed them her YouTube channel. She then waited two weeks for her letter to come in.
“Roughly 50 to 60 people apply each semester, and about 10 to 12 actually
get in,” Drew said.
“After each semester, you are brought in for further evaluation to see if you will continue on to the next semester.” There are four other people in the music program with Drew, and together they bounce ideas off of each other, write songs, practice and record their music.
“My favorite part about Kent Bellows is getting to meet, collaborate with and learn from other creative teens and adults,” Drew said.
They have salons to exhibit their art; the most recent one was held on Dec. 8, and Drew had the opportunity to perform two of her original songs in it. The next salon will be held this upcoming spring.
This program has not only helped Drew improve in her artistic abilities, but she has also had a profound effect on the other students in Kent Bellows.
“The wildest thing about Caroline is that I feel like nobody knows exactly what she’s capable of, and every time I hear her I think about how she should be one of those child prodigies that goes on Ellen and blows everyone away,” fellow Kent Bellows student and Skutt Catholic senior Reneé Mergens said.
“I always assumed that she was my age and finding out that she was only 15 made me push myself harder because she was already so talented at such a young age. I had to keep up.”
Even within her Marian community, Drew has made a lasting impression on her classmates. “She’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve heard her sing before and she blows me away every time,” sophomore Natalie Gordon-Nash said.
For students considering applying for Kent Bellows or pursuing their passion for music, Drew has one piece of advice to offer up.
“Music, for me, is my passion. It’s what I really love, and if that’s what music is to you then do it as much as you can and try to make it a habit,” Drew said.
Above & beyond: Art involvement outside of Marian
It’s no secret that Marian students are incredibly talented when it comes to the fine arts. With six visual art courses offered, there is no shortage of creativity within these walls.
It doesn’t stop there, though. Some Marian students opt for a more low-key way to express themselves–one where they won’t get a grade for their creations: art classes outside of Marian.
Freshman Abigail Reynolds and sophomore Ava Bettger take art classes at their family friend Debbie Plog’s house. Plog hosts art sessions every month, providing her students with whatever they need to make art: paint, pastels, colored pencils, graphite, sculpting gel and, of course, a relaxed, stress-free environment.
“Art class at Debbie’s is just a time for me to socialize or listen to music. It creates a time when I don’t have to worry about wasting time or doing other homework because Debbie always gives us something to do,” Reynolds said.
Plog’s class isn’t like a traditional art class where the teacher assigns one project for the entire class to complete — students are free to create whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want. There are no rules and no deadlines. Plog serves as a mentor to her students and gives them tips and tricks during class.
“This art class is an opportunity for me to actually learn and practice the skills that I want to focus on. I am free to create my own genre of art,” Bettger said.
Both Reynolds and Bettger also take art classes at Marian. Just like their class at Plog’s house, art at Marian has only deepened their appreciation for making art and expressing their creativity. “Art I has been great so far; I absolutely love it. I think we spend plenty of time on introduced concepts and, so far, we’ve covered a lot of material,” Reynolds said.
Bettger took Art I her freshman year and is currently enrolled in Art II. “I am planning to make it all the way to Art IV because in the future, I want to have some sort major in the art field,” Bettger said. “I love that the projects in Art II are long-term and a little more challenging.”
Between art class every day at school and a few times a month at Debbie Plog’s house, there is no end to the creativity and knowledge shared between Reynolds and Bettger. “Art keeps me mentally healthy and gives me break from the normal stuff in my day,” Reynolds said. “I hope to never stop making art.”
She’s got skills Abigail Reynolds ’20 works primarily on portraits, showing her skill for transferring realistic scenes on to paper via pencil. Just a few of these works include renderings of Malala Yousafzai, outspoken feminist advocate, marble statues and a smiling baby. Her obvious talent and love for the art are showcased through the pictures below. elliemulligan. Photos courtesy of Abigail Reynolds.
Next level: Alumnae contribute to Omaha arts community
According to the Advancement Office, there are 143 Marian graduates making a career in various art fields. One of these is Maureen Beat, who graduated from Marian in 1980. After Marian, she went to the University of Nebraska in Omaha, and there, earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree. She opened her studio, Art Expressions, in Omaha in 1989.
She likes to draw inspiration for her art from Omaha landmarks. Her works include the banners around Marian with our core values on them, pictured at the right. Today, these banners serve not only as reminders of Marian’s core values, but of their impact on the students whose talents they cultivate.
Abby Birkel graduated from Marian in 2016. She is studying in an undergraduate art program at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Like Maureen, she hopes to make a career out of art. “I like doing an impressionist style of painting the most, but I’m not sure what I’ll do after graduation because the commissions I get are all kinds of different things,” Birkel said.
Four years of art show commitment, value in heart of senior
Some things, people do every day. We all wake up, brush our teeth, throw on our uniforms and drive to school. After four long years of doing these things every morning, they begin to feel like second nature.
For senior Courtney O’Brien, the same thing applies to art. From her first day as a freshman to her upcoming graduation, O’Brien will have taken a visual arts class every single day of her high school career.
Due to a scheduling error, the only class she will not have taken by the end of senior year is Pottery.
From the graphite self portrait in Honors Art III to the giant plaster letter “C” in Sculpture, she has done it all–and in doing so, has learned a lot along the way. “I realized you don’t have to be an amazing artist to learn new techniques and skills,” O’Brien said.
As of now, O’Brien has completed seven semesters of art. She has taken each of the Art classes as well as the sculpture course, currently open only to seniors. Along the way, her obvious affinity to art has grown as well as her appreciation for the craft.
Her love for art wasn’t so obvious as a freshman, however. “I always liked art, so I knew that I wanted to do it throughout my time at Marian, but I never knew it would be this often,” O’Brien said.
“I learned a lot,” O’Brien said. “Like how to appreciate art more… the most valuable thing I learned is probably that if you enjoy doing something, you should take the time out of your day to do it and try your hardest at it no matter the outcome or the grade.”
O’Brien’s love for art has grown throughout the years as she’s progressed through the valuable art classes that Marian has to offer.
To any underclassmen considering taking the same route as Courtney, she has some sage advice: “If you like art, keep doing it… I’m so grateful that I made time for art in high school.”
Photos courtesy of Courtney O’Brien.
Art in the real world: A review of the Joslyn
I am instantly at peace when I enter the massive marble building and see the wild-colored blown glass sculpture above me at the Joslyn Art Museum. Located on 24th and Dodge Street, the Joslyn Art Museum welcomes Omaha residents and visitors with its distinct building and sprawling sculpture gardens.The Joslyn Art Museum has been an important part of Omaha since it opened in 1931. Admission to the permanent exhibits has been free since 2013, and a ticket to the temporary exhibit is free to students as well.
I remember attending summer art classes at the Joslyn when I was young, and eagerly suggesting to my family that we visit as often as possible. The Joslyn has continuously offered fulfilling programs and classes for children and teens.
I am always thrilled when a new exhibit is on display, but I make time for the permanent pieces — my favorite being the modern and contemporary art collections.
The museum staff is extremely helpful and eager to answer questions about the artwork and the museum itself, which does an exceptional job of leading visitors through various periods and mediums of art fluidly. A map distinguishes the variety of art that is displayed in each gallery.
The Joslyn has acquired works from well-known artists like Matisse, Monet, Degas, Rembrandt and Pollock. Art from different time periods, mediums and styles can all be observed and appreciated in one place.
Art Works, a new addition to the museum, offers various interactive possibilities for all ages to draw on their creativity and be involved in art. Art Works includes both digital and physical forms of art that allow visitors to discover their imagination in many hands-on ways. Art Works can be enjoyable for any age — artist or not.
On a nice day, the sculpture gardens are the perfect place to wander around. The Joslyn’s sizeable campus includes the Discovery Garden and the Peter Kiewit Foundation Sculpture Garden, as well as other sculptures along the property.
The Joslyn’s website states that the average time visitors spend at the museum is three to four hours. The museum is easily laid out for visitors to be able to spend as much time as they would like. I recommend finishing your visit by walking around the sculpture gardens. The Joslyn Art Museum is a memorable experience both for Omahans and visitors from out of town alike. A trip to Omaha isn’t complete without stopping at the Joslyn. The current exhibition, Zen Tales: The Art of Jon J. Muth, will be on display until April 16.