High schoolers unveil their ‘retrospectives’


SAHS students showed off their abstract, central themes through a variety of art forms at the SHAPE gallery. 

Vivid owls representing different forms of hard drugs and ceramics showing the feud between individuals and society filled the Shippensburg Arts Programming & Education (SHAPE) gallery Friday evening.

This year marks SHAPE’s 15th year hosting the “Retrospective” exhibit, which features artwork from 10 Shippensburg Area Senior High School (SASH) advance placement studio seniors. Artists included Ally Coleman, Liana Culbertson, Chloe Daywalt, Emmy Erisman, Sarah Herlia, Elissa Marzzarella, Mae Morris, Anna Neil, Breanna Rife and Lauren Taylor.

In addition to creating self-portraits and other individual projects, throughout the year students were assigned to produce a collection centered around a single theme. Themes ranged from cats to consumerism and were displayed in an array of forms.

Culbertson’s piece “A Night Out” represented the products of her daydreams and imagination. The central focus was a singer who Culbertson listened to while working. In the singer’s brain Culbertson showed a party scene in Philadelphia. Additionally, she included items she used that morning, such as bananas, a book and the people sitting around her. Piece by piece, a colorful abstraction was created.

“When I put pencil to paper or brush to canvas or finger to the shutter, I think my goal is to capture visual poetry,” Culbertson said.

Culbertson is a SHAPE junior board member who helps manage SHAPE’s social media and sell artwork. Her father is Shippensburg University Art Professor Ben Culbertson.

Marzzarella originally planned on creating portraits that exaggerated features of ethnicity. Her first piece was a girl with an abstract, long neck.

Photo by Marissa Merkt - AE Editor / The Slate

SAHS students showed off their abstract, central themes through a variety of art forms at the SHAPE gallery. 

“From there they got longer and then they became more stylized,” Marzzarella said.

Other artwork was inspired by past experiences. Morris visited the United Kingdom two years ago and decided to create a fictitious travel magazine called “Explore” to motivate others to explore the world like her. After graduating from SAHS, Morris plans to pursue her art passion at the University of Illinois with a graphic design major.

Both Herlia and Taylor featured scenes from a farm with chickens and grassy meadows.

“While I find winter dreadful, dreary and depressing, thinking of summers at the farm fills me with the scents, sounds and serenity that I find there,” Taylor said.

For many of the young artists, this was their first time exposing their work to the eyes of the public. The students helped hang their pieces in the gallery and greeted guests who came into their imaginative world.

SASHS’s art teacher Sarah Maclay did not see any of the work leading up to the night, due to being on maternity leave. After Thanksgiving, Jessie White stepped in as a long-term substitute teacher and helped oversee the creative process.

The exhibit will remain up until March 24 and can be viewed from 5–8 p.m., Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

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