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The City Journals

Highland High’s Art Gallery

May 05, 2016 04:13PM ● By Elizabeth Suggs

By Elizabeth Suggs

Sugar House - The Highland High Art Gallery is a chance for students to both showcase their work and see new art pieces. 

The arts council meets monthly during lunch hour with teachers and parents gathered to focus on how to keep the Highland High fine arts program alive, according to Luanne Schmidt, a member of the arts council. 

“With respect to the gallery, Lori Draper-Smith asked [as a new parent member] ‘why not a Gallery?’ and would not rest til we had a good answer,” Schmidt said. “So she and I pursued as advised by those who shared with us the history, and learned that the money was still available.”

Schmidt found that help from the administration and district arts supervisor, as well as funding from Mahas Construction and Highland Foundation, made the council’s art gallery dream come to life. 

Functionally, according to Schmidt, the arts gallery should continue to support exactly what it planned to support: advocating or supplemental funding, upgrades for art, enhanced lighting and more. However, the arts gallery did open its doors, according to Schmidt, to the rest of the school. 

Other than the visual arts of student work, the gallery has been used for PTSA district reflections, award announcements, Homecoming displays of scrapbooks, vintage cheer and officer, marching band and pep club outfits and welding masterpieces. Other displays include the 50-year Highland High birthday celebration and 60-year Highland High birthday celebration, as well as the upcoming annual spring celebration of the arts, tARTanFEST, on May 17.

During the last gallery, students took part in the “Guernica” project, a piece by Picasso. Most notable as one of Picasso’s most famous works, according to the Pablo Picasso website, Guernica is “certainly his most powerful political statement, as an immediate reaction to the Nazi’s casual bombing practice during the Spanish Civil War in the Basque town.” 

The art piece was divided into about 32 pieces, according to Carter Williams, Highland High’s ceramics teacher. 

This is a common phenomenon, according to Williams, and because of this, Williams said he was hard pressed to choose between a particular art project, student or otherwise, that he thought was his favorite. 

Despite the difficulty of choosing a favorite student work or art piece, Williams looked forward to one particular art piece: a dedication to the recently deceased Highland High teacher and former CIA member, Pat Eddington 

However, the dedication hasn’t yet gone through any of the appropriate channels. School bodies, like the School Improvement Council or the School Community Council have yet to say for certain whether it will be dedicated to him. So to say the dedication will happen, according to Williams, is “jumping the gun.” 

For Schmidt, both Eddington’s retirement and death were sudden. 

“No chance for goodbyes,” Schmidt said. “These visual arts teachers — and many other staff and teachers in the building — interacted and were friends with Pat for many years. News of his passing was shared with us at our monthly arts council meeting just a few weeks ago, days after it happened.” 

The problem with having an art piece dedicated to Eddington, according to Schmidt, was how little Eddington wanted recognition. 

“[Eddington] was clear he did not want any recognition,” Schmidt said. “As of this date I do not know what progress this idea of dedicating the gallery to Patrick Eddington has made; but we all supported as a council whatever these teachers wanted to do.”

Eddington was also clear to not have an obituary, according to Williams, just a tribute. 

Though Eddington doesn’t have a love for the spotlight, for Schmidt, the art gallery is not just spotlighting great contributions; it’s also about the different cultures that are expressed. 

“The arts — visual, music, dance, ceramics, literary, etc. — are a universal medium and language of their own, offering a safe and accepting place to risk expressing yourself,” Schmidt said. “Arts have the potential to connect us to one another, even when we don’t speak the same native language. These fine arts teachers are the facilitators of those connections and expressions.”