The arts are a critical pillar of any high school education and for some it becomes a guiding light, often to those who don’t even expect that themselves. Jobe Gemmell-Hughes ‘21, Abby Palmer ‘21, and Gracie Roe ‘21 all won scholastic awards this year for their art and placed in a juried show at the AVA Gallery. In their final weeks at Holderness, they are hanging a show in the Weld Dining Hall and we asked them to reflect on their time in the Holderness Art Department.
The work they are producing is all very different Jobe works in mixed media which is often abstract and on huge pages with pastels and acrylic. Abby loves highly detailed realism made with colored pencils where she can get the color and the shadows just right. Gracie is a photographer interested in landscapes, light, and silhouettes. They are all Holderness students who grew a love for art during their time here.
Jobe makes work big in size and big in quantity. He credits, “the amount of engagement I’ve had with Ms. Sevigney and the kids in class talking about and making art has helped me be inspired to make more work.” Jobe’s work can only be described as prolific or as he says, “full-throttle.” He’s produced over 50 pieces this year, often working alone at night in the Carpenter Arts Center. One piece he’s finishing now is 11’x9’ that he paints with a brush on a long stick. He says, “I’ve always liked having a large blank space to draw in because there is no sense of physical confinement. Almost to an extent that it is a little scary.”
Jobe will be studying English and Art at Bard College in the fall.
Abby entered Holderness with some technical skills but not much interest in art. She says, “at first I was just trying to get my art credit done with and I ended up finding a rhythm with art. It just came naturally to me.” And then a charcoal drawing lit a fire in Abby. “My first piece that made me realize I had a passion for art specifically was when I did my Princess Diana charcoal drawing. That opened me to really loving what I can create and what can come from just being in a small group to collaborate with.” Today her favorite medium is colored pencils because of the painstaking detail she can squeeze into a small space. “Especially during the pandemic it’s given me something to focus on,” says Abby.
Gracie Roe entered her first year at Holderness knowing she liked photography and thought she’d give Photo 1 a try. At that time she says, “I didn’t know anything about what I was doing.” She thrived in film photography even when it seemed to take an entire semester to make one finished image. Then in digital photography she really found her stride. “Mr. Sywenkyj has really pushed me to look at every different aspect of my work, to be super critical so that way I can improve each and every time. I believe that has helped me really form and sculpt this love of photography.”
One thing all three of these students have in common is that they excelled at balancing the demands of academics, athletics, and arts in their senior year. For Jobe, “art hasn’t really felt like a class it’s more like a work period.” Gracie admits it can be tricky but adds, “balancing all the stuff you got going on is a good skill and it strengthens with practice.”
All of these students will be sorely missed by the art department, and we can’t wait to see where their work takes them next.
The Rev. B. W. “Pete” Woodward, Jr. Prize is given in recognition of a Holderness graduate in their junior year of college for academic performance, exceptional leadership and contributions made to their college community.
This year we have the honor of awarding this prize to two outstanding and deserving recipients.
Celebrating its 142nd Commencement, Holderness School hosted an unforgettable on-campus, in-person to honor the remarkable and resilient Class of 2021. Due in large part to the hard work and foresight of the school’s COVID-19 response, graduates were able to receive their diplomas with handshakes and smiles, all while surrounded by family and united by the strong bonds of the Holderness School community.
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