Mountlake Terrace High School students and faculty shared their artistic talents with the community at a free art and maker show on Saturday, May 21.
The MTHS Innovations Club organized the event to show off the creativity of students and staff with various murals, Edmonds Arts Festival submissions and projects on display.
Instructors noted that to their knowledge, this was the first art show the school has ever hosted and the event was run by the students themselves. “We had kids here till 9:30 last night setting up and just so excited,” teacher Nichole Mohs said.
Mark Walker, who has been teaching at the school for almost 30 years, said it’s “the first time that I know of that we’ve had anything like that in art there – that’s never been done.”
All told, there was more than 100 pieces of student art in many different types of mediums on display, plus several works from school staff. Visitors were invited to vote for their favorite works of student art across several categories.
“I think it went really well,” said Mohs, who organized the event. “Some of the tables have award-winning stuff for the Edmonds Art Show or the Scholastic art show, which is national, so it’s kind of nice being able to showcase handfuls of like award-winning art.”
Walker agreed that the show went over well, adding, “I’m blown away. I just thought, ‘Oh, this is…this is really cool.”
Saturday’s event also included a student-hosted space with works curated by Zero Kosciuk, a junior, to fit a selected theme. “Curating was kind of a mess for me,” she said. “It was hard to find artists I feel like really spoke with my work, but I was able to find a few like Rachel Jackson, and I feel like her works very well with mine. But for me, I was just trying to put pieces together that I felt the proudest of and felt said a similar story.”
Kosciuk had more than 30 pieces of her own art, most of which she created this year, in different mediums on display in the show’s curated room. She organized the works in sections to reflect different moods, such as serious and playful, that were informed by her personal experiences.
“I like to focus a lot on themes of mental health and physical health because I have been dealing with severe scoliosis and bipolar disorder,” Kosciuk added. “I had my spinal surgery over a year ago so I’ve been dealing a lot with like physical health. And I feel like we (as a society) don’t talk a lot about bipolar disorder, it’s usually like anxiety or depression, so I like to depict those struggles through my art.”
A variety of artistic mediums were displayed throughout several connected hallways and classrooms/studios in the art and technology area located in school’s north wing. Signs were posted on campus during the event to help guide visitors to and through the display areas.
Jessica Simula, a senior, had a couple examples of her artistic talents on display, including a sculpture and also a hallway wall mural that she was still putting the finishing touches on Saturday. She said that her pieces represent “natural beauty as opposed to manmade beauty and how natural beauty just kind of always trumps it no matter what.”
Simula described her sculpture as, “It’s like four concrete kind of slabs of flowers – and then it’s obviously like pretty – but then you have natural flowers peeking through and it’s not even comparable.” She also noted that the mural of a sunny mountain meadow with flowers that she was finishing up “is kind of like my senior project in a way,” and it could be considered similar to a parting gift to the school.
In addition to the art show, students provided handmade bean bag toss games, face painting and other activities for visitors to participate in. Saturday’s event also served as a fundraiser for the student art club.
Bee Parrish, a junior who had a quilt along with several pieces of resin art on display and also helped organize the fundraiser, said the students were happy to help out with the event. “I’ve known (instructors) Mark (Walker) and Nichole (Mohs) for three years now, I’ve been in their class, and they have such good energy and they’re not very ‘you have to fit into this box’… as long as you fit within these parameters you can do whatever you want as long as it’s safe of course — because liabilities.”
Parrish noted that the quilt they made was their “first quilt ever.” It took approximately two weeks for them to complete and they decided to make it because of two reasons. “One, my grandma makes quilts, although she makes it for church,” Parrish said. “And second I needed a blanket that would cover my entire bed. It works,” they added, “and if you can’t tell, I’m a Van Gogh fan.”
One room was dedicated to art created by the school’s staff, including Mohs and also Walker, whose bronze sculptures — a gallery of which can be viewed here — have been featured in art galleries including the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle (formerly known as the EMP), along with several prominent art magazines such as Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose.
But Saturday’s show “was really for the kids and for the parents to see their kids’ work,” Walker said, noting that several regularly scheduled art shows and competitions throughout the area are no longer taking place.
He added that it was important to have a way for the students to show off their artistic talents, adding that he was quite impressed with their work. “I tell them, ‘You know I never did anything like that when I was their age, never, we didn’t even come close — not even close to this not at all. And to see this kind of thing is just well — it’s like unbelievable.”
Mohs and Walker both agreed that they plan to hold an art show at the high school again next year and hope to make it an annual occurrence.
In addition to showcasing the students’ art, it was also “nice that we could show off the (Career and Technical Education) facilities too and where they work,” Walker said. “Because I think a lot of parents don’t realize what their kids have access to, I mean those kids have access to the shop, and to ceramics. The kids are working with one another in other venues with like ceramics and casting, even in the robotics and the computer systems that they teach there and STEM — so it’s just a combination of a lot of different things.”
“I mean, I’m trying to sell the program to the families and say, ‘Look at what your kids can do and they’re having a fricking gas,’” he added. “Because it really excites me to see what they do, if they get these tools look at what they come up with. And I’ve learned so much from those kids it is ridiculous, just ridiculous, their ideas, their mindset because of their age – it’s unbelievable.”
— By Nathan Blackwell