Self-Discovery Through the Arts: How the Fine Arts Impact the Flint Hill Student Experience
At Flint Hill, the arts are everywhere. Student artwork lines almost every hallway on each of our three campuses, and the sounds of our student performers echo through each building. The fine arts are an integral part of daily life at Flint Hill. Our student artists will be the first to tell you about the profound impact the arts have on them academically, socially and emotionally.
Senior Charlotte Gilmer ’22, who is enrolled in both AP Studio Art: 3-D Design – Ceramics and the Portfolio Art Exhibition class, recently commented on how Ceramics has helped her develop her ability to focus and concentrate on long-term projects. The discipline she learned in the studio has led her to produce truly outstanding work. But beyond the product she creates, the studio experience has also been impactful. “Ceramics create an escape for me,” said Gilmer. “Sometimes, I put in my earbuds, and I work in the studio on a project, and time flies by. That time to focus on my work really has a lot of value to me.”
Once students begin to learn to focus, they can start to challenge themselves and take meaningful risks in and out of the art classroom, pushing themselves outside of their comfort zones and building confidence along the way. Dyuthi Harikar ’23 said, “The best thing about the way Flint Hill teaches art is the way that they foster a process of self-discovery through art. It has helped me not be afraid of trying something new.” This journey of self-discovery is a major focus of Art III, in which students chart their own paths through the course. After they decide the format, medium, theme and focus of their work, students spend the year on a self-directed journey, creating art that is a reflection of their feelings about the world around them.
Will Plaut ’22 added, “I’ve been a part of the percussion program for seven years, and every part of it has been enjoyable. And, the program has given me confidence as a musician both inside and outside of school.” That confidence led Plaut to audition for and be accepted to the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra and the Yellow Door Concert Series Youth Jazz Ensemble. Both groups perform locally at festivals and community events.
Our performing arts students have the unique opportunity to work in groups and bond over the shared goal to tell a story through music, dance or theatre. Brigit Cook ’23 said, “Performing gives me a space to be in the moment in a way I can't often find otherwise. I am a more confident and happy person because of the opportunities that I have to perform as well as the sense of community it builds between students as we work together.” Hudson Eaton ’22 also noted the collaboration and camaraderie, saying that the most impactful part of participating in a theatrical production is the “sense of community that the cast creates. Feeling a connection with everyone on stage and in the audience.” And, recent graduate Garret Blum ’21 said, “I’ve made lifelong friends in the band, and I really enjoyed playing music that I like to play every day in class. I’m really glad I stuck with it for all eight years.”
The pandemic made it challenging to embrace all of the opportunities the arts offer. Nevertheless, our students and arts faculty were continually innovating and encouraging one another. Ryane Jones ’22 said, “One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic was to stay motivated even when we couldn’t be together. But, what really inspired me to keep going is the ability to choreograph dances and try new things. And, in the back of my mind, I knew it would all be worth it when we got back together on stage.” Jones continued her voyage of self-discovery by choreographing the reindeer section of The Nutcracker this year. She hopes to continue to choreograph in college and beyond.
As Flint Hill reopens its doors to live arts events, students continue to imagine what’s possible and push to expand their talents and experiences in the arts.