A week of arts at MVRHS

MVRHS students show their art skills in an exhibit. 


Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School is exhibiting pieces of art created by its students. Although it’s called “Week of the Arts,” the exhibit will stand for several weeks this year. The setup for the exhibit began Tuesday.

Chris Baer, the arts department chair, said he expects that many of the art pieces will be on display until the end of the school year, even though graduating seniors can start collecting their artwork starting the week of June 13. 

Baer said that the exhibition could not be done in 2020 due to COVID. Under normal circumstances, the school would invite family members and the public to see the art pieces and presentations in a big reception. The event happened annually in May. However, the school believed that they could not do a reception in a safe manner this year. Still, Baer said they wanted to “do a modest show this year,” leading to the exhibition only for the students and staff that is smaller than previous years. Many of the art pieces belong to seniors.

The exhibit features a variety of art styles, from architectural models to poems to paintings to digital art. For digital artworks, such as videos or computer programs, QR codes are provided so people can interact with them. There are a mixture of original ideas and pop culture inspirations, such as Marvel’s Deadpool or Japanese horror comic writer Junji Ito. Some of the art pieces won Massachusetts Scholastic Art Awards

Certain sections had themes consolidating the students’ works. An example is drawings done by students based on research they did on social justice issues, such as Black Lives Matter. Others were by art genre. Tiffany Shoquist, the painting and drawing teacher, said that her students made “anonymous” images based on poems they wrote. While most were written in English, others had translations from the student’s native language, such as Spanish or Portuguese. Shoquist says this approach helps students get better accustomed to the school. “It’s not a language class. It’s a community-building class,” said Shoquist. 

Bethany Cardoza, Kayleigh Bollin, and Kaleb Hatt are all juniors, and Isabella Merriam is a sophomore, taking Baer’s photography and graphics class. Their art pieces were displayed in the exhibition. 

Bethany’s images were primarily in black-and-white. One of her pictures showed her sister with newspapers in the background. Bethany burned a hole into one of them to make the picture “a little bit more dramatic,” she said.

Kayleigh had a mixture of photos. These included sports pictures from MVRHS football games and others dealing with heavier themes, such as addiction to money, or what a victim of sexual assault would look like if her trauma was visible on her skin. 

Kaleb had many pictures relating to the ocean, most retouched by Photoshop to give a cleaner look. He said that one of his inspirations was “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway. 

Isabella is taking classes through Zoom, but she was still able to get her artworks ready for the exhibition. Two of her photographs, named “What Divide Us” and “Mocato,” won honorable mention in the Scholastic Art Awards. 

Alissa May Habekost, a freshman, won a Silver Key Scholastic Art Award for her piece named “Sugar High.” 

The students were taught their art skills by five teachers: Baer teaches photography and graphics, Shoquist teaches drawing and painting, Brendan Coogan teaches crafts and sculpture, Elsbeth Todd teaches architecture and design, and Chris Connors teaches computer technology. 

The teachers said remote learning made it difficult at times to teach students, since there was a limited amount of resources available for students studying at home, compared with those who chose to come to campus. Lessons had to get flexible and allow students to create their art works with what they had on hand. “A lot of working around [remote learning] had to happen,” said Todd. Computer software, such as the 3D modeling program SketchUp, was used to make the projects happen. 

Usually, the art exhibit is larger, and demonstrates the students’ progression through their four years in high school. “It’s a retrospective of their four years,” said Coogan. He said it was unfortunate that this couldn’t be shown this year. 

Todd said a website showing the students’ artwork will be available in the near future.