May 3, 2012 | Vol. 42, No. 18

Top school artists reap festival laurels

When a photographer went to shoot the Haines High School’s top student artists this week, they quickly raised an objection: Not against a white backdrop.

From left, Jackie St. Clair, Cassie Galasso and Tia Heywood with their award-winning pieces.

“We’ve gone through stuff like that,” said district art teacher Linnus Danner. “What works and what doesn’t. I try to give them a well-rounded background, including random things to be careful of.”

Danner and students Cassie Galasso, Jackie St. Clair and Tia Heywood recently traveled to Craig for Southeast Artfest, a week-long series of workshops for the school’s most talented artists. They spend four days creating works in the media of their choice.

Senior Jackie St. Clair created three abstract, stained-glass pieces and four metal sculptures, including a Dungeness crab. Her metal work was named Best of Workshop. She chose stained glass and metal sculpture because they were new media to her.

“I haven’t found a medium I love more than any other,” St. Clair said. “I like doing different things.” The festival, she said, is “great for trying new things and meeting new people who are really interested in art.”

Heywood, a junior, has earned a spot at the festival since eighth grade. She’s traveling to Tuscany, Italy this summer to participate in an art program there. She painted five silk scarves and her still-life oil painting was Best of Workshop.

In oils, she learned the technique of “under-painting,” a way of setting base tones before painting still lifes. “You’re mapping out where the lights and darks are. Then you go back over with color.”

She spent hours determining orange and yellow shades of pink to account for reflections and shadows in the still-life scene. “You have to be really observant and learn to see.”

“I really like Artfest. You have three hours to work in a single medium, compared to one hour (in class at Haines),” Heywood said. “It’s cool to see what everyone’s produced by the end of the festival.”

Senior Cassie Galasso’s totemic-style scarf, “The Descent,” helped her win Best of Workshop in silk painting. Galasso is learning to carve on silver outside the classroom in Haines. She also participated in oil painting in Craig.

“At Artfest, we have so many different teachers and experts in so many different art fields. It’s so interesting to hear about their lives and what inspired them,” she said.

Galasso will be studying natural resource management at University of Alaska-Fairbanks next year. “Art has always been a fun thing for me. That’s the way I’m going to keep it, but if I could do more with art, I would.”