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The City Journals

Brighton students painting to success — digitally, traditionally

May 08, 2019 03:11PM ● By Julie Slama

Brighton High senior Julie Schwarz won a scholarship at Arts Day on the Hill for her digital drawing, “A Flower from My Home.” (Photo courtesy of Derek Chandler/Brighton High School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

With a stroke of a brush — or on the tablet — Brighton High School art students are making their mark.

Recently, Brighton senior Julie Schwarz won a scholarship at Arts Day on the Hill for her digital drawing and seven students were honored by having their artwork displayed at the 47th annual Utah All-State High School Art Show in Springville. 

Art educator Derek Chandler said much has changed in the art department since he was hired at Brighton nine years ago to teach graphic design classes.

“There were fish made from copy paper displayed with cotton balls stapled on,” he said. “Our department has changed significantly since then. This year, we added a third AP course. We have 40 students who are submitting their portfolios May 7.”

These students are enrolled in AP courses in commercial art 2D, photography 2D and studio art: drawing. Chandler said additional students are enrolled in a concurrent drawing class with Salt Lake Community College, gaining college credit while still in high school. The program also has expanded to offer classes in jewelry and ceramics. 

“We’re much more in-line with college-level courses and principles,” he said, adding that it has resulted in the learning and success of students.

Schwarz was chosen as the only Canyons School District student to showcase her art at the capitol. Her work, “A Flower from My Home,” is a digital drawing she created with a WACOM tablet that was purchased as a classroom set for the first time, with funds earmarked for career and technical education programs, Chandler said. 

Brighton High School art program is expanding with this year introducing an AP Commercial Art course. (Photo courtesy of Derek Chandler/Brighton High School)

 Schwarz used the tablet, which is designed for those who are drawing, painting or photo-editing, as part of the school’s first AP commercial art class. 

“(It’s) already paying dividends. She was recognized on the senate floor and received a standing ovation as she was awarded a $300 scholarship. It’s amazing to see the opportunities and the advancement of technology and art,” Chandler said. 

This year’s theme, “Inspired Utah,” was designed to encourage students to explore the people, cultures, communities, landscape and all that inspires them as residents of the Beehive State. Using the tablet, she drew a sego lily to represent Utah.

“We talked about all the things that represented Utah: green Jell-O, seagulls, red rocks, arches, and she took the flower and ran with it. She used Illustrator and Photoshop and it turned out really nice,” he said.

Chandler also said it’s an accomplishment that seven of the 15 entries allowed to be submitted for the juried Springville art show were accepted. 

“This is the premiere high school show in the state. Hundreds, thousands of students want a chance to have their work displayed,” he said.

Brighton students who had their work on display include Miles Anderson’s graphite piece, “Stripped”; Sam 

Fairbairne’s piece, “Bracelet”; Anabelle Heaton’s “Toucan,” created from clay; Sam Hugely’s piece, “Ring”; Autumn Jones’ ink work, “Addict With A Pen”; Sydney Pexton’s digital photography, “Manarola”; and Jessica Brunt’s digital photography, “Monopoly,” which sold at the exhibit.

Other Brighton students were expected to showcase their work at the Canyons School District Art Show this spring.

“We are getting to be known for our art program,” Chandler said. “We’ve had a reputation of ‘come to Brighton to swim’ since our swim team does so well, but now our art standards are higher and Brighton is getting known for our art program as well.”