Lia Emry

For years, the tradition of painting a senior mural on one of the walls in the cafeteria has continued. Senior Darcie Morgan’s mural for the class of 2023, titled “Westopoly,” was selected by the senior class vote.

Exploring the possibilities

Six students use art to expand their horizons

April 18, 2023

We encountered six diverse artists who explore various art forms beyond the traditional classroom setting. These individuals bring their unique perspectives and styles to the creative process, using their talents to express themselves and connect with others.

Bree Lydon: animation

For sophomore Bree Lydon, art has always come naturally. After picking up crayons and doodling on paper when she was two, she knew she wanted to pursue art. The 14-year-old is starting to learn animation in her home and has recently begun a new animation club at school.

Focused in her drawing class, sophomore Bree Lydon works on an assignment in her drawing class. Lydon drew five personal, meaningful objects on a piece of paper, using them in her animation. “To imitate life, you need to know what it looks like first. There’s a lot of characters I’ve designed in the past,” Lydon said. “Now, I can add depth and meaning that I’ve never been able to add. While drawing this, I can also add shadows and imitate life, [play] with posing and try to recreate the stuff I see. I can set up my figurines, and after I draw the mannequin, I can put the character overlay on [it].” (Bree Lydon)

“I have always been attracted to art. I like pretty things, especially when it comes to the art that I make. There’s something about being able to express me in [the art that I create] and also being able to tell a story without having to think about how to spell words,”  Lydon said.

Lydon is currently in the process of learning how to create animation. She wants to work in a big-time studio such as Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network and sees animation as a career option. However, Lydon has experienced a few bumps while discovering her passion for art.

“Self-doubt is my largest struggle when creating a piece. I’ll be extremely confident one day and then look back on it the next day, and I don’t even know what I’m looking at, or I’ll just completely run out of confidence on some days. Sometimes, it takes a whole week to get back to working on my projects, like animation. But with school, I like [projects] because [the class] is paced,” Lydon said. “You can only put so much effort in until there’s nothing you can think of, and that’s when artwork sets in, and that’s just a whole new pain to deal with.”

Bringing her passion for animation to the school, Lydon recently began the new Animation Club. Wanting to start a club for animation since middle school, Lydon didn’t have the confidence to get a teacher to sponsor the club, but this year, she got impatient and gained the confidence to ask a teacher to sponsor the club.

“There are only so many things you can [achieve with] words, but [when] portraying [art] with colors and movements, you can tell a broader story.”

— Lydon said

“[In] starting this [animation] club, I hope [that] with [many] people collaborating, we could make something beautiful at this school. I’m hoping that people find an interest in this club, and we can share our creativity,” Lydon said. “Art [is] more than [an] escape; it’s building my reality. While there are only so many limitations in this world, you don’t have to have any in the world you create. Art brings a whole new perspective to [life] because you can put your feelings [and experiences] into art.” 

Darcie Morgan: painting

Filled with vibrant colors, senior Darcie Morgan’s painting of friends holding ice cream hangs at her house. Morgan enjoys both physical and graphic art. “I can be the worst judge of my work, so it takes a lot of time and effort to make something that I’m proud of,” Morgan said (Darcie Morgan)

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree for senior Darcie Morgan. Receiving art lessons with her grandma and having an artist for an uncle has instilled the importance of art in Morgan from a young age. 

Though watercolor was her favorite medium when she was young, Morgan has now experimented with acrylics and oil painting. Whether talking it through with a friend, scrolling through her camera roll, or already having an idea, Morgan’s creativity comes from all over.

“Nature and bright colors have always been an inspiration to me. I love how simple things can bring so much joy, especially when done with the right colors,” Morgan said. “I enjoy making pieces that make me happy. I love making others happy, too, and art is a great way to do that. That’s why my subject matter is always bright and playful.

An idea comes to life thanks to senior Darcie Morgan’s painting skills and imagination. Her hard work in her previous art classes culminated in Morgan’s painting of a “West-o-poly” themed senior wall for the class of 2023. Morgan plans to study art in college. “My art teachers have had a big influence on me. When they see potential in my work, I get excited for my future and always want to improve my technique,” Morgan said. (Lia Emry)

I want to encourage people to have hope in the world and see something beautiful.”

Currently, Morgan is painting the “West-o-poly” themed mural for the class of 2023, which has been her long-time goal. Next year she plans on studying art at Brigham Young University.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I never gave up and continued to improve my skills further and further. Now, I’m in a place where I can do all sorts of different mediums and enjoy the creative process,” Morgan said.

Nora Detchmendy: drawing

One of many pieces that senior Nora Detchemendy has created shows a skeleton in the air. Detchmendy can often be found doing her signature drawing of skeletons. (Nora Detchemendy)

For senior Nora Detchemendy, drawing caught her eye while she was growing up. Detchmendy began pursuing her art career as a child and went on to learn pottery during her junior year. Detchemendy draws with a thin sharpie in her artwork, often coming off as comic book or tattoo-style line art because she likes how it looks.

I’ve never stopped drawing, [ever] since I [started when I] was little. I’m proud of the style I adopted and created with my art. I do a lot of work with a fine-tip sharpie, kind of like comic book/tattoo-style line art. It was kind of an accident at first, but I rolled with it, and I liked it, so I kept using it.” Detchemendy said. “Drawing, to me, is a way to bring your ideas to life and your vision to the paper.” 

Senior Nora Detchemendy reflects on her favorite piece she created in her AP drawing class. Detchemedy can often be found drawing skeletons. “I’m proud of this piece. It was one of the first drawings I made for AP Drawing: it shows a person taking their shirt off to show bones/ribcage,” Detchemendy said. “This drawing, in particular, holds a lot of meaning that could apply to anyone who sees it. [The skeleton] can [represent] body image and mental health because everybody experiences issues with their body. It’s one of the more powerful pieces someone can look at and understand.” (Nora Detchemendy )

Detchemendy is in Advanced 3D Studies and AP Drawing, just some of the many AP art classes at the school. Picking up the hobby after getting compliments about her work, Detchemendy credits her teachers for helping her continue her journey with drawing.

“Art teachers [Kat] Briggs and [Ashley] Drissel have been nothing but helpful and encouraging; I appreciate them and everything they do. They’re good at their job by being very interactive and encouraging with their students. [They] check in and help when needed,” Detchmendy said.

Because she doesn’t like drawing humans and faces, Detchemendy can often be found drawing skeleton-related images. Detchemendy starts with a pencil and goes back in with a pen.

“[Skeleton art] is cool, and there is a lot of symbolism behind it. Skeletons don’t have a gender; you can’t assume as much when you draw a skeleton; you have to show it. I just sit and think until I get an idea for a piece. Drawing can be calming. I sit down and draw for hours. It’s hypnotizing because I feel like I leave the real world,” Detchemendy said. “It’s fun to see your ideas given life, especially by your hands.”


Lizzie Duenez: designing and sewing

As a little girl with her eyes constantly glued to the TV, junior Lizzie Duenez watched countless red carpets. The glitz and glamor eventually went from the carpet to Duenez’s sketchbook, inspiring her to start designing and sewing clothes when she was eight.

Junior Lizzie Duenez’s clothing designs shine as the illustrated mannequins pose. Duenez both designs clothes and sews but designs more often. “[I like designing clothes because] I can express myself, and it doesn’t matter if other people don’t like it,” Duenez said. (Lizzie Duenez)

Though red carpet events like the annual Met Gala still inspire Duenez, she now finds her ideas in different ways, including various eras in time and even architecture. 

“Designing has [allowed] me to be more creative and share how I see art with others. It taught me to be more confident and helped me be more resourceful by using old materials and clothes to make something new and fun instead of wasting money that I don’t have,” Duenez said.

Not only does Duenez find it useful to quickly fix small clothing issues — such as mending a hole in a sweater or hemming a dress — but Duenez also recognizes the benefits sewing will have in the future, especially as she hopes to become an actress.

“I think it would be cool to be [my] own designer because you don’t have to limit yourself. You can be proud of something; everything would be made for you and [based on] what you like instead of what someone else thinks would be good for you. You get to use your own opinion and [make your own] decisions,” Duenez said. 

Tony Zenser: photography/film

Sophomore Tony Zenser discovered his passion for photography when he was six. Zenser often looks for small details when capturing a moment. “When finding something to take an image, whatever looks coolest to me, or has a high amount of detail and/or contrast usually catches my attention,” Zenser said. (Tony Zenser)

For sophomore Tony Zenser, photography was a way to spend time with his grandpa. Zenzer’s grandpa gave him a spare camera after COVID-19, which led him to find a passion for film and photography.

I’m grateful for my grandpa getting me into photography because it’s a hobby that I’ve enjoyed,” Zenser said. “When I’m older, I’ll get to look back on the memories of taking images with my grandpa and have the opportunity to thank him for all I’ve learned.”

Being naturally drawn to photography, Zenser picked up the hobby of doing film photography in high school. Film photography is classified as taking images on clear thin plastic. Digital photography doesn’t follow the same steps as film. Zenser, like any other artist, has a routine when it comes to photography. Zenser says his parents see the value in this hobby he has picked up.

This statue is one of many images that sophomore Tony Zenser has captured at the St. Louis Botanical Garden with his film camera. Through Tony’s love of photography, he credits his parents for helping him. “My parents have always begrudgingly let me take up tons of space with chemicals and an enlarger and upwards of 10 cameras; they value my hobby for photography,” Zenser said. (Tony Zenser)                                                               

“The hardest part about photography was just practicing. It’s a lot of trial and error, and it’s not a fast process. I mostly like taking close-up [images of] nature or landscapes. I think those are more interesting than people or buildings or events because people are so common, and it’s more interesting to be able to capture something as complicated and diverse as a landscape,” Zenser said. 

Developing and printing everything on his own — excluding colored images — Zenser is proud of what he has learned and accomplished because it is a hard bridge the gap as a beginner photographer. He hopes to continue photography as a hobby down the road.

“Photography is a great way to pass time, and it’s a way to make moments last longer than they would otherwise. I’ve enjoyed photography because it’s a way to slow down; you can control almost everything about a photo, even on film. It’s also nice to do everything yourself, away from a computer. I’m looking forward to eventually doing alternative processes, color printing, and developing,” Zenser said.

Zenser follows a routine every time he develops his film. Zenser sees photography as a hobby but not a career path (Lia Emry)

Alexis Briner: crochet

Sophomore Alexis Briner has made many things come to life, all through crochet. Briner uses crochet to unite herself with others. “It has brought me closer to my grandma and great aunts who crochet and knit. I’ve also encouraged friends to learn how to crochet when we hang out,” Briner said. (Anna Claywell)

A skein of yarn sits in sophomore Alexis Briner’s room. With that yarn, a crochet hook, time and dedication, possibility awaits. Since she was in eighth grade, one stitch after another, Briner has made everything, from a tote bag and stuffed animals to shirts and blankets.

Briner first started crocheting when she needed something to do after she broke her finger. Briner began by creating a string of chains and now has an array of crocheted items.

“Art has always been a great way for me to express myself,” Briner said. “Crocheting is different from many art forms in that you are making a product that doesn’t tend to convey much emotion; however, pieces take a lot of time and tend to be a little investment, so I find them to be very meaningful gifts.”

Sophomore Alexis Briner holds a stuffed animal bee she crocheted. Like everything else she crochets, Briner found the bee time-consuming. “It feels great to finish a piece. However, that doesn’t happen often, considering I like to jump from project to project,” Briner said. (Alexis Briner)

She gets inspiration from crochet influencers with the help of the internet, increasing the crochet reach to teens. On Instagram, the “crochet” hashtag has 46.4 million posts and 16.1 billion views on TikTok.

“Usually, I start projects spontaneously and just make whatever I feel like working on,” Briner said. “Crocheting is a great way for me to take my mind off things and unwind while still feeling like I have something to show for my time. It’s meditative and allows me to take a break from the things stressing me out.”

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