Young Artists Paint Their Way to Spain

Nia Hendricks
A handful of young painters are getting to experience life as working artists as they complete a commissioned mural for a local business owner. Students and teachers of Calvary Christian Academy's National Art Honors Society shared with us their plans to experience art abroad.

A few creative CCA students, along with their supportive art teachers, wanted to experience art the way it’s meant to be experienced — up close and personal. The National Arts Honors Society is on a mission to take students to the world’s most historically artistic cities. Their passion and talents were recognized by Lance and Liliana Lehman, local business owners of the Cypress Creek Medical Pavilion, who have purchased two murals from a small team of students for $6,000 — perhaps enough to fund the society’s next international endeavor!
CCA: What is the National Art Honors Society? How did it begin?
Leah Rogers (LH), Society President: The Art Society is a group of people who are both artistically and academically gifted who are working to make CCA better place through their artistic gifts. It was founded in the 2017-18 school year by Gabriela Lehman, myself, and the art teachers. We wanted to create a sect within CCA that would help others experience other cultures and experience art abroad. We went to Paris, France last year and this year we are going to Spain.
We wanted to create a sect within CCA that would help others experience other cultures and experience art abroad.
CCA: Why is studying art abroad so valuable?
Noemi Klipfel (NK), CCA Art Teacher: Sometimes when we open up a book and look at a photo of a classical sculpture or painting, it's nice to see that, but it’s completely different and amazing when you stand in front of it in a museum. We want to give our students that experience. A lot of the departments do different things and we wanted to have our own trip that would really enhance the educational flavor of the visual arts department. Our first trip to Paris was exclusive to the National Arts Honor Society, but we all agreed that it would be beneficial to open up the trip to other departments. So, this year we invited the Spanish Department to go on the trip to Spain with us.

CCA: That’s great! And that’s what proceeds from the mural are going toward, right?
LH: Yes, last year we were commissioned to paint a mural for the Cypress Creek Medical Pavilion and all of the money went toward supporting our trip to Paris. We’re really thankful that they offered the opportunity again.

CCA: What is the concept for the mural?
LH: [The client] requested something bright, abstract, positive colors, and they want a poignant spiritual meaning. Our concept is inspired by the paintings of Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The name of the piece is “Earth’s Creation,” it’s an explosion of beautiful and bright colors with the intended meaning of spiritual renewal and healing.

CCA: Multiple students are working together on the mural, is it difficult to collaborate?
Angelina Ispir (AI), Project Manager: Kind of, because everyone has their own distinct art styles. We all have to figure out how we can make it fluid and cohesive. Just by talking and communicating, we can really start fixing things. It is a challenge, but it’s a good learning experience, especially for me. As a freshman, this is my first time ever doing something like this. Starting high school I’m already getting the experience of painting at an adult level. I feel blessed to have this opportunity.
What we learn [in art classes] is really extended and applied in the Art Society.
CCA: What do you love most about participating in the Art Society?
Samuel Hernandez (SH), Society Chaplain: For me, what’s most exciting is participating in contests and going on trips, it’s a window into the world. It exposes you to higher education in art. And what we learn is really extended and applied in the Art Society. You’re taking what you’re learning [in class] out into the world.

AI: This environment makes it easier to get our creative minds flowing. I don’t have the same [studio] environment at home… Being around other artists helps get my creativity flowing.

CCA: Has the Art Society influenced your future plans/careers?
AI: I’ve always wanted to pursue art, but I always thought that only meant painting. When I was younger I thought I wouldn’t be able to make a living as an artist. But then I learned that there are so many avenues related to art — design, fashion, etc. — but I would love to study some kind of art.

SH: I’ve really been able to experience a lot of stuff through the Art Society; it's helped me to explore different interests. I love set design, and if Mr. Merrill hadn't pushed me to do that, I would have never done it. And now I love it! I wouldn’t have known how much I loved it he hadn’t pushed me.
CCA: It sound like you all really respect your art teacher, Mr. Merrill. How has he encouraged you as artists?
LH: One of the things I admire about him is he encourages those who just want to have fun with art, who maybe don’t have the most talent. He helps them find their field, passion, whatever gives them joy. He is the most reassuring, positive, and encouraging art teacher that I’ve ever had.

SH: Mr. Merrill [has known] me since 7th grade. He would welcome me with whatever I came with, drawings, ideas, etc. He encouraged me to do Art Endorsement, and I’ve learned so much from him. He’s an actual artist, so it’s great to see his methods and technique. He pushes me to get past what I thought I couldn’t do. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.

AI: There are some [clubs] that give opportunities based on seniority, but he cares more about your passion and drive for art. There’s a lot of people who are very quiet, who you wouldn’t know could do amazing work. He sees people’s potential.
The National Art Honor Society departs for Spain in March and will spend 9 days exploring museums, observing architecture, and being immersed in the culture. Their mural is still a work-in-progress and will soon be displayed in the Cypress Creek Medical Pavilion for patients to enjoy!
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