HomeArtsCommitted visual art students excel in artistic pursuits, taking passions beyond classroom

Committed visual art students excel in artistic pursuits, taking passions beyond classroom

Published Jan. 30, 2024


From the ceramics room to the art studio and beyond, Carmel High’s top visual arts students pursue their artistic passions both inside and outside of the classroom, with many hoping to continue in some capacity after graduation.

With CHS’ robust arts program and Carmel’s historic Bohemian society where parents and family members are engaged in the visual arts, students have access to the supplies and support they need to try out and excel in the many facets of visual art.

Senior Ky Dahle hopes to continue her passion for visual art, specifically oil painting, after graduation by majoring in art. (photo by KY DAHLE)

“I always tell kids you get out of it what you put into it,” says art teacher Steven Russell, who has seen countless exceptional art students pass through his program during his nine years at CHS. “You tend to have a cohort of students that go through the program together and grow together that inspire and push each other.”

For Russell, roughly 10 of his current students are deeply committed to the visual arts and are likely to pursue art in some capacity down the line, with a handful applying to art schools.

Among his top students, senior Ky Dahle has been a standout in visual arts since her freshman year. So far, Dahle has had and continues to have several personal commissions both digitally for logo and graphic designs as well as oil paintings. On campus, the senior has also created backdrops for the school play “Twelfth Night” and will be working on the backdrops for the spring musical “Mean Girls.” 

“Ever since I’ve been in diapers, I’ve been drawing with whatever I had,” says Dahle, whose preferred medium is oil painting because of its blending and glazing properties. “It was mostly a hobby on the side for a long time, but as my knowledge of art grew, my love and appreciation grew along with it.”

The softball player’s hope for after graduation is to major in art to not only gain more skills and knowledge, but also a greater appreciation for new perspectives and outside ideas as well. 

“Out of college I eventually want to use my art as a career, not just commissions, but also my own art that I want to share,” Dahle says.

Senior Lily Grundy pursues her ceramic skills outside of the art room through a pottery class after school. (courtesy of LILY GRUNDY)

Out of the students taught by Russell in each period, the art teacher estimates roughly one or two kids come in with some skills or talent prior to instruction. One of these students excelling in AP 3D Art, a top-level art course complete with a standardized examination testing the students’ artistic skills at the end of the year, is senior Lily Grundy. 

Beyond Carmel High’s ceramics room, Grundy has been pursuing her artistic passions by taking a pottery class at Peninsula Potters in Pacific Grove with her mom. The class has taught her a variety of ceramics skills, on top of being an enjoyable outlet for her artistic skills, the sports medicine student says. 

“I have really been enjoying using clay this past year in AP 3D,” Grundy says. “I like how it is more forgiving than other mediums. If you mess up, it is easy to turn it into something new.”

Beginning in elementary school, the three-sport athlete has been in an art class for as long as she can remember. While not planning on majoring in the arts, Grundy hopes to implement her pottery skills and love for art into her daily life in the future.

Senior Belle Papazian is yet another multi-faceted artist whom Russell has seen blossom throughout her time in the art program. With a preference for 3D media such as clay and wood, Papazian makes custom fine furniture and cabinetry while also teaching her peers how to work with clay as president of the CHS pottery and ceramics club.

An AP 3D student, senior Belle Papazian creates custom fine furniture and mentors others interested in 3D media. (courtesy of BELLE PAPAZIAN)

“I’ve always cared about the aesthetics of everything, from the packaging of my shower products to the things I create,” Papazian says. “Anything relating to visual art and craft is what I love to do, and it’s something in my life that I feel relatively confident in.”

The AP 3D student was able to discover her passion and talent for working with clay and wood in part due to the CHS art program, which showed her that 2D art was not her calling. Papazian finds a special purpose in her projects involving 3D mediums.

“By the time they are a senior, if they’ve gone through the four-year sequence, they have total freedom of the studio to develop their own ideas and portfolios,” Russell says. 

Although Papazian feels positive that her future career or path will revolve around art in one way or another, and has had the support of her family in her artistic pursuits from a young age. 

Russell hopes that Carmel families will continue to support their CHS art students looking to commit to art after graduation, whether that be attending an art school or pursuing it as a hobby. 

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