Student Artists gain Real-World Exposure through NAHS

Isabella Lobo and Julia Gonnello won the 2021 Juried Exhibition Contest

As visual sophomore Isabella Lobo sat in an expansive classroom, she started to zone out, when visual teacher Scott Armetta announced to the class that the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) had posted the list of winners for the 2021 Juried Exhibition. Presuming that her piece hadn’t been selected for an award, she turned her head to admire the past works that had received recognition. But once she heard the words “Julia Gonnello and Isabella Lobo,” she immediately picked her head up in disbelief.

Lobo and visual senior Julia Gonnello’s artworks were selected along with 91 other pieces by the NAHS out of 1187 total entries. 16 of those entries were submitted from the  Dreyfoos chapter of the NAHS.

Both students submitted self-portraits. Lobo focused on the effect of sadness and a sense of interaction between the audience and her piece.

“The focus of the piece that I submitted was to capture a fleeting, melancholy moment by having the subject of the piece confront the viewer directly,” Lobo said.

Similarly, Gonnello focused on the effects of sleep deprivation, drawing from her personal experience. She concentrated on the chemical makeup of the brain to go deeper into the psychological aspect of her concept.

“I began exploring my fascination with life’s intricate layers, and the psychology of human perception, through gold patterning, facial expression, and busy composition,” Gonnello said. “I find the neurology of sleep deprivation fascinating: a simple chemical language that translated into memory loss, tunnel vision, and hallucination. I combined these physical effects with the exploration of my relationship with self-perception, and environment.”

Dreyfoos’ NAHS chapter has allowed students to showcase the skills they have acquired in school. Lobo believes that her development as an artist is due to the education she has received from her arts teachers and her passion for her major.

“I absolutely feel like my time at Dreyfoos has gotten me to this point,” Lobo said. “Seeing the wonderful work and motivation of other students motivated me to do well myself, [along with] the advice and resources provided by my teachers.”

Likewise, Gonnello feels that the access to resources through her major classes have led her to this point.

“Through my tenure at Dreyfoos, and through my NAHS experience, I’ve grown tremendously as an artist,” Gonnello said. “I’ve been surrounded by other amazing artists as sources of inspiration, powerful conversation, and shared passion. The community here has given me so many opportunities to showcase my work, and to explore myself further, through art.”

With this year’s COVID-19 challenges, Gonnello, as president, had to change the way the NAHS chapter was run, as compared to past years.

“I’ve learned to become more adaptable than ever,” Gonnello said. “The constant exposure to new art, ideas, and opportunities has also helped me broaden my horizons, and challenge myself in my artmaking.”

Students who were selected by the NAHS usually have their artwork featured in Alexandria, Virginia. However, because of the pandemic, the gallery was virtual this year. When asked about why she submitted, Gonnello emphasized her love for the competition.

”It was a great opportunity for recognition, and, especially as the President of NAHS this year, I wanted to put my name in the hat. It’s a great opportunity, and I’d encourage all NAHS members to submit, if [they] can.”

As for her exposure to real world art, Gonnello expressed her vision for the other artists in the club as well.

“I hope it not only reflects positively on the amazing talented members of NAHS at Dreyfoos, but also encourages others to continue pushing themselves, and submitting work,” Gonnello said.

She has helped the members of the club grow as artists through mentorship and peer review. In this environment, artists pursue their visions and share their experiences with the community.

“Every member we have is incredibly talented, and I love seeing their hard work and dedication through all the submissions,” Gonnello said. “I strive to be a role model not just in my art, but as an older student — keeping organized, taking risks, and being as friendly, and adaptable, as possible.”

To see all of the pieces that were recognized in the 2021 Juried Exhibition, click here.