Exhibition takes art beyond the classroom

Seven HHS students represent at Northern Illinois University

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Courtesy of Jillian Corapi

“Whimsy” created by Elizabeth Ingrassia for the NIU annual Invitational Art Exhibition.

Abby Panier

To Kelsie Lopriore, art is like finishing a homework problem.

Ever since her first art classes at age 8, that satisfaction of a project done well has been there. Even more so when she found out her art teacher nominated her for the annual Northern Illinois University Invitational Art Exhibition, a showcase that highlights over 150 pieces from high school students.

Seven Huntley student artists were chosen to submit digital versions of their art pieces, which will be up for various awards along with being showcased on NIU’s social media platforms. The virtual ceremony will occur on Nov. 20 and the pieces will be displayed until the end of December.

“I never really enter art into competitions because you get in your head,” senior and nominee Elizabeth Ingrassia said. “But if I ended up winning something, I’d probably lose my mind.”

Like Lopriore, Ingrassia has been creating art since she was a kid and wants to pursue animation after high school. According to Ingrassia, one of the best parts of the process was helping each other pick out the perfect piece to submit under their names, offering support and encouragement to fellow artists.

“I would be so excited if [any] kid from Huntley won because they’re all such amazing artists,” Lopriore said. “I’d be so proud.”

Nominees Morgan Bach, Adam Cramer, Sophie Douglas, Sara Gebka, Ingrassia, Lopriore, and Charlotte Sveen all created equally beautiful but vastly different pieces. Some poured their creativity into physical sculptures, while others showed off their considerable skill with 2D art.

“We try to highlight our most deserving students who work really hard in our classes,” art teacher Jillian Corapi said. “It’s not just about talent.”

For competitions and exhibitions like the one NIU holds, talent certainly helps, but dedication and a great work ethic are valued highly by the art department. 

“We also like to use these opportunities to encourage our students that their time in our classrooms is worth more than just a grade,” Corapi said.

Art has the unique ability to forge human connections while instructing learners about the world’s rich history, themes, and culture. By teaching young artists to pay attention to the world around them, art encourages observation of both material and abstract ideas.

In the process, many might find they have a hidden passion for art and may pursue it further.

“Sometimes [students] want a chance to be seen by others and maybe just that recognition they weren’t expecting,” Corapi said.

It can be extremely motivating, not to mention confidence boosting, for an artist to know that the piece they poured their soul into might be chosen for an award or exhibit. That resulting determination to keep creating is noticed by art teachers, who send high school students to NIU art workshops presented by college professors.

The workshops and the annual exhibition by NIU offer perfect opportunities for aspiring artists to consider the university as a future and expand their knowledge.

“Everyone needs an outlet in life,” Corapi said. “Some people like music; others might be into gaming or sports. But you’re able to bring a wide variety of students from different backgrounds into this visual experience.”

It is important to highlight different talents, whether a student’s skill lies in sculpting, sketching, graphic design like Lopriore, or animation like Ingrassia. Art can be empowering for both the creator and viewer by having the capability to invoke emotions.

“I’ve always liked creating things,” Ingrassia said. “Like getting a vision of something I want to make in my mind and then translating it to paper is just so satisfying.”

However, according to Corapi, some individuals put too much pressure on creating art and instead need to see it as a release of emotions and self.

“Creating art is very much the equivalent of a math person solving a problem,” Lopriore said. “It’s that same thrill of excitement. It can be stressful, but a lot of the time, you just have to let go and let things happen.”