First Person: The Meaning of Portfolio at Flint Hill School

By Kilahra Lott ’18

Portfolio is by far the hardest class I have ever taken at this school, and I am so glad I did it. Without this class, I would not have known how to apply to art schools or even what art schools are about. Portfolio not only taught me life lessons that I will always carry with me, but it gave me a chance to pursue my dream of being an artist. Because of this class, I was accepted to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) with a $68,000 scholarship. Though this class is demanding, it’s worth knowing that it is preparing you to attend an art school. Ms. Fragione taught me to understand how to take photos of your work, upload them to share with colleges, write an artist statement, buy the right frames, wire them tightly, and, most importantly, hang them correctly.

As I was preparing for the Visual Arts Show opening earlier this week, the process of framing some of my work was horrendous and overwhelming at the beginning. It took us four hours just to decide where everything goes. And, because we decided to interrogate our work, it took us a long time to place everything correctly in a way that is presentable. After that came the hardest part — doing the math. As a person going to an art college, you can probably guess that math is not for me, and you are absolutely right. We had to measure so many things: the wall, the height, the frame, the wire, and the piece. After it was on the wall, we had to make sure the distance from the frames were all equal. As you can imagine, the first couple of tries did not end well. We had to keep lowering the hooks or moving them one centimeter over, but that difference makes the whole group look so much stronger. After everything is finally up, we make sure the frames are all clean, and everything is perfectly leveled.

In the end, the final results looked amazing. Though the process was stressful and challenging, it’s incredibly rewarding to see all of the pieces perfectly lined up and presentable. The Visual Arts Show was a wonderful experience. It was exciting to see everyone from the Flint Hill community come out to observe and compliment our pieces, after we worked so hard on them. I am truly glad that, as a student at Flint Hill and a future art student at PAFA, I’ve had such a wonderful year in Portfolio and that I’ve been given the opportunity to share it with the community that has helped me reach my potential as an artist.

Kilahra’s Artist’s Statement

My artwork is about the human form and its surroundings. I’ve spent hours studying the figure by attending life drawing sessions and constantly practicing in sketchbooks while focusing on how to form the body, and it was an amazing experience. The drawing sessions where male and female models posed for hours helped me to draw quickly and efficiently.

All of my works have common materials: walnut and black ink, charcoal and oil paint. The inks convey simple and eloquent lines, while the oil paint creates a dramatic emphasis and focus. For one particular piece, “Untitled 31,” I had a piece of paper that already had markings on it and decided to reuse it by drawing a figure on top of it, allowing the figure-ground relationship to be on a new level with line, color and space.

Most of my pieces are inspired by the works of Frank Lobdell, a West Coast American painter who created amazing sketches and drawings of the figure only using pen and ink. He was able to convey so much emotion and meaning with his beautiful lines and emphasize the figure-ground relationship with such power only using ink. He inspired me to really look and to focus on where to place the figure, within the drawing/paintings, to develop more of an intimate relationship and how to go beyond just the image of the model, seeking its potential and expression.

See work from Kilahra and other students during the Upper School Visual Art Show, which runs through May 9.