Talented Parkrose High art students win regional awards

Why is fine art education important in our schools? Find out why these  students are saying their teacher’s pushing and prodding has helped them grow, both academically and artistically …

Parkrose High School senior Blane Faciane shows an example of his award-winning manga-style line drawing.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Parkrose High School fine arts instructor Beverly Cordova looked curious when learning that two of her Advanced Drawing and Painting students had both commented to us on the same mentoring style during interviews.

“They both said you ‘pushed them’ into trying new styles, techniques, and methods of creating and producing fine art,” we told her.

Cordova smiled and responded, “I think that’s important when teaching anything. Here, students are stretch themselves as much as possible, in a safe environment. This is a safe place to do it. If they don’t make it happen on their first attempt – if they stumble or fall – we’re right there to help them pick themselves up and try it again.”

One of the students to whom we were referring is Parkrose High senior Blane Faciane.

At the Northwest Oregon Conference of Arts show – a competition that features work from eleven high schools in the greater Portland Area – Faciane took first place in the Ink & Line Drawing division with his American and Japanese “manga”-styled comic book drawings.

“I’ve been influenced by both styles of art,” Faciane said. “At first, I was doing static drawings of characters. But then, I wanted to see what these characters would do if they actually lived out scenarios.”

With his art, Faciane says he can create characters, and then draw how they might act if they were alive.

He was introduced to comic book art by one of his mentors and teachers, Jake Richmond, Faciane said. “He showed me into how to put motion and emotion into my comics and storylines. I enjoy planning out how someone’s life would be, and how they would go about doing stuff.”

What attracted him to pen-and-ink drawings, Faciane recalled, is that it comes naturally to him. “With this style, I feel I have more control.”

Considering art as a career, Faciane said he had thought about going to art school. “But I do want to go to college; for the time being, I’ll keep drawing as a hobby.”

Holding her painting, “The Stranger” – it took 1st place at Northwest Oregon Conference of Arts competition – is Stephanie Montez.

Student’s art being judged in Washington DC competition
In the Parkrose High fine arts building, we also met senior Stephanie Montez.

“My favorite style of art is mostly acrylic on canvas,” Montez told us. “I do a lot of that. But I have it a lot of experience at other techniques. I’ve taken every art class that the school offers, except advanced animation; I couldn’t schedule that in.”

Montez said she’s enjoyed creating art ever since she could remember; and that her mother and teachers encouraged her to develop her creative abilities.

“I’m thinking about taking some classes at Mt. Hood Community College next year,” Montez said, of her future plans. “I do want to pursue an art career. I really want to give it my best shot. I’d really like to get into advertising art; but I know it’s a very hard industry to be successful in. Doing animation would be cool, also.”

This painting, “Self Portrait” won Stephanie Montez a 3rd Place ribbon at this year’s Regional High School Exhibit at Mt. Hood Community College. But, the organizers of the art festival were so attracted to the image, they printed on the 10,000 post cards used to promote this year’s event.

She’s had some commercial success locally, Montez noted, having created T-shirts for her boyfriend’s band. And, one of her paintings, “Self Portrait”, which won third place at this year’s Regional High School Exhibit at MHCC, has been packaged up and sent to the annual school art competition in Washington D.C.

About Ms. Cordova, Montez said, “She’s kind of pushed me to take more chances in my art. She’s pushed me to expand out of my ‘comfort zone’, which is really great. I’ve been able to grow in art, especially this year.”

This photograph of a “scratchboard” work created by Montez isn’t a true representation of the quality of the work – but we wanted you to get an idea of her talent.

Fine art teaches transferable skills
“I’m not surprised to see that they got awards,” instructor Cordova said. “Their work is exceptional. It makes me feel as if it is time well spent with the kids.”

Acknowledging that, as in professional sports, few of her most outstanding students is likely to be able to make a career of art, Cordova told us that art classes nonetheless help prepare students for life.

“Art teaches very specific skills,” Cordova said. “One of those is creative problem-solving. You take a problem, look at it from all angles, and discover a variety of ways you can solve the problem. Then you go about testing your theory about how to solve the problem.”

The other reason art classes are valuable, she added, is that they stretch students’ conceptual abilities. “They learn how to get ideas out of their minds, so they can see them tangibly. When an idea is ‘out in front of us’, we’re able to take action on it,” Cordova observed. “I think that’s what every school in America needs – a good art program.”

It sure looks like they have a good art program at Parkrose High School.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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