This year's IBDP Visual Arts Exhibition, entitled Integrated Chaos, is the largest visual arts exhibition in ASW history, combining an in-person exhibition in the Annex building, an exhibition website, and live Zoom sessions with the artists. ASW speaks to IBDP Art Teacher Tamara Nonato about putting on such a show (view a gallery of images below).
Can you tell us about the title of this year's exhibition: Integrated Chaos?
About two months ago when the seniors began brainstorming the title of this year's IBDP Visual Arts Exhibition, the students drew inspiration from all of the people who were working together to prepare the in-person and virtual exhibits, despite all the chaos that has surrounded us - hence, Integrated Chaos. So many people have played a part in making it possible, including the audience members! Even with the unexpected school closures (the high school went into virtual mode as a health precaution the week the exhibition opened), we have had a surprisingly high number of faculty and staff come to see the in-person exhibit and I am expecting even more Zoom participants in the virtual "Meet The Artist" sessions.
Do you see any patterns in the themes of the work produced this year?
Each artist has been working on their body of work for over a year and their topic was conceived at the end of their 11th grade year. The theme of each student's work is a personal artistic investigation of concepts and media that they are most interested in. Many of this year's seniors are very passionate about current events such as Strajk Kobiet, (the Women's Strike), environmental protests, and social issues, so you will see some recurring themes revolving around these ideas.
This year will be the second time during the global pandemic that the IBDP Visual Arts exhibition has had to adopt a 'virtual' format. What challenges and opportunities is this bringing to the program?
We are lucky to live in an age where technology is so accessible and even luckier to be at a school that can offer technological opportunities, both with devices and support. The Tech Department here is top notch and they are always willing to offer their expertise! The online gallery and Zoom sessions allow the family and friends of the seniors to interact with the exhibition, even if they are spread across the globe. Additionally, having such an amazing maintenance crew here at ASW has allowed us to transform the Annex building into a two-level exhibition. I would say that the most challenging part of this year's dual platform exhibition is finding a balance with the marketing and advertisement of processes for attending the different shows. Since our online presence has increased with hybrid learning and virtual school, more communication is happening via online platforms. Trying to inform, but not overwhelm, has been our biggest challenge this year. I do think that it worked though, according to the turn out we have had so far!
This year's exhibition is ASW's largest - why is this? Do you have more students on the course, or the students are producing more work? What does it mean for our school?
This year is the largest class of seniors I have had in my 5 years of working at ASW. I hope that it means that students are really enjoying the Arts Program offered here and feel that they have the potential to be successful artists. Watching the arts program grow and evolve is one of the best parts of being at ASW. All of my colleagues in the arts department pour their heart and soul into helping the students find their artistic voice - whether that is on stage or on a canvas - and I think that is why enrollment numbers for classes across the arts disciplines continue to grow.
What have been some challenges in mounting the largest exhibition?
The physical part of installing a show is quite intensive! So many little details go into matting, framing, hanging, projecting, and displaying both the work and the exhibition text. However, I would have to say that the most challenging aspect of installing a physical show is that no matter how much planning goes into the location of each exhibit, you can't ever really know if it will look good until the work is there. This year, the seniors constructed detailed installation plans for how they envisioned their exhibit, but we had to modify some of these plans at the last minute because of unexpected issues such as lighting, spacing, etc... For example, when Fiona chose her location, it was on a cloudy day. The day we started to install it, it was sunny and the sun reflected in her frames and we couldn't see the art! It is the last minute changes that can be stressful - but at the same time, the adrenaline rush adds to the excitement!
Since you joined ASW you've pioneered a number of changes to our art program - to name a few you held the first ever off-site exhibition (in Konstancin), the first virtual exhibition, now the largest exhibition.... Is ASW a good place to experiment and try new things?
I have had so much fun as an art teacher at ASW. The off-site exhibition in Konstancin was a good one! After the Konstancin show at Park Cafe, we started holding the exhibits in downtown Warsaw art galleries like Mysia3 and PinUp Studio. We also moved the opening nights to Saturdays, which was a fun "next step" in the progression of our exhibitions. I definitely look forward to more of those in the future! We have a great community of students, faculty, parents, and administration and everyone is always so supportive of these events. As teachers, we have the support and the encouragement to experiment and evolve and I really appreciate that about our school. I look forward to the next few years here to see what is next!
Thanks Tamara, and good luck with the Zoom sessions!
Families are invited to attend the virtual Zoom sessions with the artists from 6:00-8:20 PM on Wednesday, March 31st and Thursday, April 1st. Please check eNotes for instructions to join and schedules. You can also check out the artist profiles and artworks on the exhibition website, and see a gallery of the in-person exhibition below.
Photos by Mr. Brunt and Mr. Figlewicz