RFHS senior Payton O'Hara stands beside four years worth of her artistic creations. Photo by Sue Rollyson

It likely will not  come as much of a surprise, but, did you know that Carbondale has an abundance of talented teen artists? The collective articulation of this talent is currently on display throughout the Roaring Fork High School (RFHS) library. 

That’s right, the annual RFHS Visual Art Show (VAS) is up until Friday, May 13 at 5 p.m. and the community is invited to come and peruse the brilliant art in its many forms. From sketch books to stained glass sculptures and wooden fishing nets, there is a little bit of everything. 

This is the 21st iteration of the annual VAS, and it’s only the second year in which woodshop has collaborated with the art department on the exhibit. Art teacher extraordinaire and the curator for the show, Leslie Keery, attributed the budding partnership to instructor Michael Black, who initiated the department’s involvement. 

It’s not an easy job bringing all of the pieces together; there are literally hundreds of them. In fact, Keery holds each of her students’ projects until the end of the year so every piece can be included in this showcasing event. 

The exhibit is divided into five student categories: Art 1, 2, 3, 4 and AP (Advanced Placement). Each of the nine AP students (and the solo Art 4 student) have pieces from the time they started in the art program as freshmen up to their most recent. 

Previous art students, teachers and other local artists make up the judging panel to determine “Best of Show” — not an envious task, considering how much talent there is to choose from. 

As it turns out, and according to Keery, there is hope for anyone who dedicates their time and energy to creativity, although she approaches progress from a different perspective. “I don’t say ‘get better,’” she began. “I think they can develop artistic skills and they can also develop their personal voice — which is really the root of art.” 

When asked if students narrow in on a certain medium by the time they’ve been through four years of art classes, Keery responded that they’re most often “still experimenting with different media. They’re starting to realize who they are. They’re on what I figure is the first step in that journey — it’s always fun to watch,” she proudly expressed. 

Following up on that note, The Sopris Sun inquired if art is a good means of figuring out “who we are.”

“Yeah, absolutely,” Keery replied. “You can tell a lot about the kids when you look at their artwork. I mean, I call every piece of art a self-portrait. Every piece of art that you make is a self-portrait because it’s you making it; so all of those experiences and feelings in your life as you’ve lived it come out…” 

The artwork that lines the walls of the library certainly reflects an abstract understanding of the respective young artists. The works are as enlightening as they are profound and Keery is beaming with pride. 

Mateo Ledezma (left) and Brady Samuelson in front. of their woodshop pieces. Photo by Sue Rollyson

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