BRICK – The halls of Brick Township High School were filled with colorful and unique art as the district celebrated their annual Arts Festival.
On March 9, the district-wide festival commemorated its fourth year honoring visual and performing arts programs from pre-school all the way to 12th grade. Visual arts teachers selected works from their art students all around the 12 schools and hung them throughout the halls and cafeterias inside the school. The displays consisted of more than just 2D art, but showcased ceramics, murals, digital designs and photography which are usually classes taken by the high school students.
The district also expanded the festival to their performing arts programs such as dance, drama, choral, instrumental, and bands. Performances were held in the auditorium and hands-on workshops were held inside classrooms.
Jennifer Lane, Supervisor of Science 6-12, STEM Coordinator and Visual Arts, stated that the festival is held around this time since March is Youth Art Month.
“It’s the most well-attended event in the entire district with over 1,000 people. It’s an extraordinary evening, it’s a very joyful and inspiring,” Lane said. “We wanted the students to see if they continued with their art path, how far they could actually go. It’s a great way to display everything that we do curriculum-wise within the school day.”
From personal experience and her art background, Lane explained that teaching the arts is fundamentally important.
“The arts were incredibly important to me growing up and I think they’re part of a whole child approach. In Brick we are so proud of our sports teams, we’re so proud of our leadership students who are in honor society and student government. The third critical piece in my opinion also with academics is that we really highlight the creative students and the students who have that capability,” Lane said. “Our music, performing arts and visual art programs are award winning and those students deserve their right to shine as well because they are equally important to everything that we do here at Brick schools. It completes the whole picture.”
Jude Harzer, Art Educator, Mural and Art Club Advisor at Brick Memorial High School, explained how the arts provide life-long learning skills to kids.
“With our tagline being ‘Arts Are Essential,’ it’s important because I think it is life-long learning and I feel like art’s being celebrated, especially during and post pandemic. It’s integral; like music, visual arts, graphic design. It’s the largest initiative in the world now. Being a creative thinker and problem solver, you find that in the arts. Not only are you teaching skills that are usable, we are trying to teach them to develop creativity and that’s rare in schools,” Harzer said.
“You get to see the level of achievement. [District Art Festival] is one night we get to see everyone’s talent. It’s impressive. Unless you have an event like this, no one sees the talent,” she added.
Inside Brick Township High School library was art created by students from both of the district’s high schools. One major display of artwork was done by Brick Memorial High School Senior Mary Jacob, who is a part of the school’s Mural and Visual Arts program and president of the Art Club.
Her work is comprised of nine illustrative panels that will be displayed permanently at Warren Wolf Pre-K. Each mural has a distinct theme featuring animals as well as the school’s mascot Warren Wolf.
“Since it’s a new preschool they wanted illustrations, something that represents the schools but also for it to have a childlike theme,” Jacob said. “They needed a student to make up the designs, and I know digital illustration so I said ‘I could start them.’ Since I created the first illustration, it was kind of set that I’d be making the rest of them. That way all the digital illustrations would be the same style.”
Jacob began working on the project in November, with the final panels being painted as a collaborative effort by Mural students, Art Club, and Jacob herself.
“I worked on them every chance I had. I was thinking of themes and I thought it would be cool to do animals. With kids, it’s fun. I wanted to make sure I did one of each animal, with no repeats,” Jacob said.
“I really got into digital illustration during the pandemic, but I’ve always been into painting and more. People pass by and ask ‘what story book is this from’ and I tell them I made this and the characters. I’m really happy how they came out,” Jacob added.
Jacob said her plan is to go to school for graphic design, hoping it will lead to multiple career paths.
“I want to do more murals. Long term I want to do a little bit of everything, whether it’s illustrating a book or graphic design. I’m just very inspired,” Jacob said.
Brick Memorial High School Senior Ty Hogan had multiple pieces of work featured at this year’s event.
Being a graphic design student, his ‘Mustangs’ t-shirt design was voted on by staff and students to be printed. Several students got to visit Farro’s Tees along with Hogan to see and take part in the printing process.
“I actually whipped this up in the last five minutes of class. There were some other designs that I made before this one that I wish got in. But I never make anything that I don’t like, and I wouldn’t turn it in if I didn’t think it was good,” Hogan said.
Hogan was also the winner of this year’s poster design for the District Arts Festival. His poster featured images like a camera, dancer, music notes and theater masks, along with the slogan ‘Arts Are Essential.’
He explained how after working on the design, he discovered that it was the wrong size and became pixelated when printed out.
“I wanted to give up,” Hogan said. “I very quickly, in a day, with pure determination and some last-minute tweaks, ended up making it was it is now, upscaling it.”
In addition to his graphic design work, he is also a talented drummer and will be performing at the Stone Pony with his band and the end of March.
“I’m blessed with two talents, as I’m a musician as well,” Hogan said. “For graphic design, I’d like to go to a good college. I hope to have good teachers, continue learning, and hone my craft.”