Student Projects

The Art in Society program is driven by students who believe in the transformative power of art and are passionate about using their creative talents for social change. Each student will complete a Capstone Art Project that cultivates a cross-cultural understanding, focuses on social justice issues, or addresses how art relates to the human condition and society. Below are the projects that will be completed in spring 2017.

Siyi Zhiu – Grade Level: 12 Major: Film
In progress senior project this year explores what makes a complete human being.

Robin Moore – Grade Level: 12 Major: Film
Launched fundraiser to aid teachers in the United States trying to teach art classes in under-financed districts.

Au Jean Rhee – Grade Level: 11 Major: Songwriting
As part of the Art In Society program’s Idy Talks, gave a talk and songwriting demonstration at Silver Pines Lodge in downtown Idyllwild to shrink the gap between the school and the town.

Sumi Onoe – Grade Level: 12 – Major: Music
Piano performance at Black History Month Concert.

Paulina Flores – Grade Level: 12 – Major: Music
Mentors grade-school students at San Jacinto Elementary School. Participated in MUSICA! program Side by Side concert on 3/5/17.

Michael Canto – Grade Level: 11 – Major: Music
Mentors grade-school students at San Jacinto Elementary School. Participated in MUSICA! program Side by Side concert on 3/5/17.

The Art in Society program is driven by students who believe in the transformative power of art and are passionate about using their creative talents for social change. Each student will complete a Capstone Art Project that cultivates a cross-cultural understanding, focuses on social justice issues, or addresses how art relates to the human condition and society. Below are the projects that will be completed in spring 2016.

Rafael Barrera, Mariana Becerra, Mariana Sanchez – We Are All Ayotzinapa/Ayotzinapa Somos Todos

Interdisciplinary performance event

As a continuation of the documentary screening this past September, and as a tribute to the 43 students “disappeared” by the Mexican government; our project “We Are All Ayotzinapa” will bring awareness back to the Idyllwild community through an event that will combine different art forms. The ‘Ayotzinapa’ case is very dear to our hearts because it is a constant reminder of the terrible state of our country, Mexico, resulting violence, corruption in our government, and inactive citizenry. As the next generation of young Mexican artists, we are capable of making a change, of bringing awareness and triggering action. We believe art is the best way to do so, this is why we have decided to combine poetry, music, visuals, and dance in one event that will hopefully to inspire others to get involved in the social issue we are presenting.

The performance will engage different members of our society since different art forms will contribute to the making of the project. It will also include the participation of several members of the community, including Idyllwild Arts Alumni, thus making it more appealing and engaging. Luis Ham and Ana Garcia, Creative Writing Alumnae will contribute with the spoken-word/poetry piece; Rafael Barrera and Mariana Sanchez will prepare the music component, Paulina Otero and Renatta Cervantes will help with the visuals creating posters and flyers, and Mariana Becerra will provide photographs from protests in Mexico City and a short dance choreography. We believe that because of the screening of the Ayotzinapa documentary in the fall, many students in campus learned about the cause we are fighting for and will want to attend the performance in order to be part of the change.

Lincoln Belford, Allison Billmeyer – Who We Are and What We Stand For: A Night of Senior One Person Shows

Theater performance

Every person has a story, and every person has had to deal with issues affecting society. Racism, sexism, gender identity, sexuality, body image: countless humans across the globe have experienced these issues, along with plenty of others. The theatre senior class of 2015-2016 is a handful of the people who have experienced these topics and have something to say about them. Through an evening of monologues, songs, and self-written pieces, the theatre seniors will explore the social issues that have shaped their lives and shaped them into who they are today. The social issues that could be investigated include race, religion, sexuality, violence, bullying, political beliefs, body image, mental health, self-harm, and illness. Documentation of the performance will be posted to social media to share the students’ experiences with a worldwide audience, creating a larger impact. Doing this project will combine all the skills the seniors have learned in their time at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, something the theatre seniors, have not had the opportunity to do in years. Societal issues are everywhere, and art is the best way to explore and discuss the issues that affect the entire world.

Audrey Carver – Cahuilla Bird Singer Mural

Visual Art installation

Art is a powerful way to influence society. It speaks to people on all levels; a single image can bring hundreds of emotions and widespread awareness to anyone who views it. In this mural project, David Reid-Marr and I plan to make the culturally homogeneous town we live in more engaged and integrated with the local, native culture. We will collaborate with other visual artists to create large, powerful portraits of native Cahuilla bird singers and then install them on the back of the town library. It will foster respect and awareness for local heritage by being such a central part of the town. Not only will the mural integrate culture into our town with its central placement, but there will also be an installation ceremony. Traditional Bird Singers, like the ones we will paint, will be present at the event and will do their own induction ceremony.

This project is not solely for the community, however. By working on such a large scale, dealing with an industrial county installation in a public place, and working closely with a different culture, I will personally be able to grow as an artist. The experience of collaboration and the community involvement should be a beneficial, powerful experience to everyone involved.

Ilayda Cetinkaya – Politics in Puberty

Film documentary

After the conflict between Russia and Turkey, I wrote and directed a movie inspired by it. I want to take this project further by using the multi-cultural environment of Idyllwild Arts and ask my friends about politics in their countries and how they are affected by it. I would like to combine two things I am passionate about as an artist: filmmaking and reflection on politics in our lives. I will be interviewing my peers on the subject and make a documentary about how politics are changing with in the modern era and its impact on the new generation.

Film uses varying tastes and ideas to unify many types of people. I’ll use this connective power to bring people together and invite them to new perspectives. Modern people are engrossed in their daily lives and what they believe in. People use social media to easily access knowledge, but they often end up ignoring those who do not think like them or share their opinions. Politics is a subject that people particularly tend to be narrow-minded about. The majority of internet users are youth (my target population) who are significantly affected by what they read and watch on social platforms. I want to share my movie and documentary on social media to reach people and convey my point that politics define our national and international destiny. We should all be more considerate about the difference between the portrayal of the political events on social media and the truth.

Cash Globe – Jazz and the Breakdown of Racial Barriers: Performance and History

Music history presentation and jazz performance

Racism is still a huge issue in today’s society and is constantly part of our everyday lives, even when we do not realize it. My motivation behind this project was to show people that art has the power to change the world. Jazz, originally born as an African American art form, brought people together from separate worlds. Music is such a powerful entity that it broke apart a terrible ideology that was part of this country for decades. Jazz helped deconstruct racial barriers before anything else in this country. Black musicians were performing for white bandleaders and audiences, black and white musicians were performing together, and eventually white musicians were even performing for black bandleaders and audiences. This project meets the qualifications for the Capstone Project because it will show how an art form, Jazz, helped achieve social justice, and although did not solve the problem, it put our country on a path towards more equality. I hope to show the community how important and influential Jazz music really is, to teach the community about the history of Jazz and its role in the breakdown of Racism, and for the community to better understand and appreciate Jazz.

Before the civil right movements, or before Jackie Robinson broke down the barrier of color in baseball, Jazz musicians both black and white broke down racial barriers. This not only allowed musicians of all races to collaborate, but also helped white musicians and Jazz fans to experience and understand Black Culture in the early 1900’s. Jazz was a gateway for people to forget about color and simply enjoy and appreciate music together as human beings. I plan to prepare around a 10 minute talk about the history of Jazz. After this talk, I want to perform one or two tribute pieces, along with other Jazz majors, to Jazz greats who were a huge part of this movement, such as Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, and Teddy Wilson. I will decide upon these pieces with Marshall Hawkins.

Caroline Quigley and Miguel Soto – Tell Your Story

Interdisciplinary performance

The motivation behind this project is a passion for art as a medium of expression and storytelling. Creative performances create a connection with the audience tells a story that can have the power to change lives and inspire movements. Art is one of the most effective and important ways to address gender, racial, sexual, ethical, and social issues. There are many social and global issues that are constantly ignored by society and can only start being solved by awareness. We believe that awareness is the very first step for solving any kind of problem and art has the power of spreading that awareness in an emotional and effective way that no other form of expression can. Art is the universal language and every single human on Earth can be affected by it. There are many horrible and unfair realities out there that people live every day and we want to give people the opportunity to make their struggle known and heard. I want to empower their voices as a way to create change. The essence of dreams and possibility is found in art, it uplifts the human spirit and inspires change in the world. We want to be a part of that change. “Tell Your Story” will be an opportunity to spread awareness on these every day issues with the power of art and a way to give hope to people who have felt invisible and helpless.

This project will engage members of the Idyllwild community in so many ways… This show will give the performers a chance to express and relate their life stories to the audience, teaching many valuable and wise life lessons with their knowledge. It will also give the Idyllwild Arts community an opportunity to meet and understand people who have experienced things beyond what we know. In addition, we will invite many Idyllwild organizations to be a part of the show: Idyllwild Arts, Idyllwild School, Idyllwild HELP Center, and other various shelters in Palm Desert /Palm Springs.

Daniela Rendon – Mural Shadows

Dance performance

Murals have allowed people to express themselves and their surroundings through art. Throughout the years, painters have used murals as way to give communities an escape from an oppressive reality. These works of art have inspired individuals to step up to create awareness and change. The lifelike images famous muralists created enabled them to maintain connections between generations. Ultimately, these connections allowed individuals to recognize the patterns of injustice and take action. Powerful murals seem to be more than a two-dimensional piece of work and this is why my goal is to create a dance show that brings to life what society has long tried to express visually on a flat surface.

Mural Shadows is based on the dark side of human relations that lead people to communicate with each other through art. It is divided into different sections that incorporate fluctuating numbers of dancers in order to encompass more than one source of inspiration. The opening will incorporate all of the dancers and will be inspired in the roots and basis of values among communities. Solos will portray the individual passion that is necessary in order for a cause to connect to people and activate the sense of change. Duets will be inspired in human relations contrasting the positive and negative effect that individuals have not only to each other but to the community. Group parts will demonstrate how when people unite they have a better chance of being unstoppable.

The costumes for this show will be crucial to the effect I want to transmit to the audience; they will symbolize and emphasize the value of community, teamwork, and union. The costumes will be hand painted and each piece will be interesting, but when placed side by side with the others, will reveal an actual mural. (Each individual costume will also represent a different issue.)

I came up with the idea of Mural Shadows after visiting the “Mission Murals Movement” in San Francisco and leaving with an unexplainable sense of inspiration. There was one mural in particular that I still remember that had a woman extending her arms begging for help, making me want to jump inside the painting and actually comfort her. This project qualifies into “Art into Society” because it combines two different art disciplines to create awareness about some of the issues modern society is currently facing.

Mural Shadows will be my last big dance project in IAA and hopefully it will not just represent my dancing style but also me as an artist and as a citizen of the world.

Charley Sklar – Fighting for Veganism

Interdisciplinary exhibit

Pursuing art as a career has never been a goal of mine. I came to Idyllwild arts as a freshman not sure exactly what I wanted or why I was here. Throughout my years here, I have grown so passionate about such a vast spectrum of social justice issues and I have realized that I did not come here to be a well know dancer or photographer but to learn how to think creatively and use art to make a difference in the world, specifically for animals.

Animal agriculture is one of the most relevant issues in society because of how many different social issues to which it contributes. There are so many different reasons why animal agriculture is appalling, but in my art, I choose to focus on the environmental damage caused by the livestock industry and animal rights violations. That is what I care most deeply about. That is what I find most worthy of fighting for.

Marin Luther King Jr. said, “Never, never be afraid to do what is right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

Nick Stavros – Music in the Inner City

Music presentation

The social issue I will be focusing on is, for lack of a better term, the inner city and how it relates to music. I plan to explore how music impacts urban areas and what happens to the community as a whole. I hope to interview a mix of musicians and composers who have grown up in this environment. I want to be able to understand their perception of music in their community and its effects. I hope to help educate the public so that more people can see the positive role music can play in anyone’s life.

I plan on having an engaging presentation where I present some of the works made by inner city composers, illustrate how music helps the community, and describe cases of results of successful music programs.

Briana Tolman – Save The Animals/Marine Debris art show

Visual Arts Show

The idea of this show is to bring awareness to the students of Idyllwild Arts, the residents of Idyllwild, and anyone else who is willing to listen about the problems and dangers of marine debris. This show will also promote animal conservation and what this community can do to help. This project fits the criteria because we are combining art with the intent of shedding light on two serious problems in this society (and on this Earth). This project enhances my work at Idyllwild because I am very interested on social justice and activism while also being very passionate about art. Before this year, I was never really able to mix the two together, however, with the Arts in Society program and the opportunity to do this capstone project, I am able to mix both passions of mine and I think that this is important. This show will encourage students from our school to create art that promotes animal conservation in Idyllwild and reduce pollution.

Tess Varga – Beauty: Unedited

Photography and film project

The human spirit is indomitable if it has the opportunity to express itself. This is the essence of empowerment and my goal with Women’s Empowerment Club. Anything in our society that limits empowerment of a person also limits the power of the human spirit. In my mind, the beauty standards set by ad campaigns and the media are made unobtainable by retouching and editing. From an early age, kids–specifically girls–are exposed to what they think is the standard of beauty. These standards, however, are manufactured to sell a product. They begin to believe that technologically-altered models are how they should look, even though is it humanly impossible to do so.

For my capstone project for Art in Society, I want to continue the work we have started this year with Women’s Empowerment Club to change the perspective on what we consider beautiful. By including unedited photos of both boys and girls, the project will address the gender divide in social standards. Posters of the photos will be created and placed around campus to involve the entire IAA community. The goal is to film the photo subjects’ reaction to their unedited image, as well as the reactions of other people to those images. This will make the project into a social experiment examining how we react to our own images as opposed to how others react to highlight the harsh standards to which we hold ourselves. I hope to utilize photography and filmography to show the students at Idyllwild Arts how beautiful they are without filters, without editing, and, hopefully, give them a new perspective they can spread throughout the IAA community.

Mira Winick – The Aesthetics of Violence

Fashion show and documentary

This project is a commentary on the romanticizing of violence in the media. It will be a multi-media piece combining film and fashion. I will have five different fashion pieces each representing different forms of violence: Psychological Violence, Domestic violence, Economic Violence, Violence of War, and Nuclear Violence. At first glance they will appear beautiful, but closer examination will reveal that they are horrifying embodiments of violence. In the second part I will interview the models and audience members who wish to participate. I will ask questions about our and the media’s relationship to violence. I will then cut this footage with footage, of the show, and of me constructing the pieces to create a documentary I will upload on the Internet. My intention for this piece is to stimulate a meaningful and thoughtful dialogue in Idyllwild and our broader community about the causal integration of violence into our daily lives.

Siyi Serena Zhou – The Clean Dirt

Film documentary

Nowadays, a lot of kids are raised with electronic devices, like phones, PSPs, and iPads. Parents are trying to keep their kids away from the dirt and nature, especially in the cities. I was raised in Shanghai, one of the largest cities in China, and when I was little, I was interested in the natural world since I did not get much chance to be with it. However, my parents were always trying to get me away from it because they were concerned that I would get a disease from the dirt. Ten years later, when I fell down in a forest with my friends in Idyllwild, I touched the ground the dirt. The soft soil flowed away from the gaps of my fingers and I found it was so beautiful and magical. It is these bits of sand which nurture and give nutrition to life on the earth. Soil is not bad for our body, it is where we come from. The dirt is not dirty. It is clean and sublime.

I intend to make a documentary about how human beings are part of nature and nature is where we belong. A comparison between the childhood of city kids and rural kids’ will be made to show that nature nurtures people in a healthier way, physically and spiritually.

Idyllwild Arts has a rich history of students and alumni who’ve integrated social justice themes and global perspectives into their artistic expression. We aim to continue this tradition and strengthen our network of creative changemakers.

Rutherford 1     Juan Pablo 1