Saint Mary’s Hall is known for its stellar fine arts program, which has continued to shine brightly even in the midst of the pandemic. In the face of the challenges brought forth by COVID-19, our Tobin Fine Arts School and its students have continued to thrive and persevere. In an effort to maintain the safety of our community, the program’s arts offerings have pivoted to the virtual world, but still provide students innovative and creative ways to express themselves through their respective art forms.
“While things are a bit different this year, Visual and Performing Arts students at Saint Mary’s Hall are continuing to grow as artists, collaborators, creative thinkers, and innovators every day in their classes,” said Wanda Wiley Atkinson Director of Fine Arts Bethany Bohall. “This is thanks, in large part, to the dedicated arts faculty, stellar guest artists, and the superb facilities we are fortunate enough to have at our school.”
It’s All About Collaboration
Many of the treasured yearly fine arts performances, exhibits, and events have continued to be held this school year, only virtually. Students and fine arts faculty have worked hard to feature many of these school art productions, exhibits, and performances on the school’s Vimeo Fine Arts Showcase. Visual and Media Arts showcased their work on the Saint Mary’s Hall Fine Arts exhibition page. The situation with the pandemic has also inspired new ways for student artists to collaborate:
- Studio Practice in Sculpture and Design students presented a formal proposal to administration on renovating the outdoor storage area behind the classroom into an extension of their workspace. This allowed them to collaborate on a joint creative project.
- Middle and Upper School dancers worked together virtually on student choreography pieces for Kaleidoscope, the annual SMH contemporary dance production. It was pre-recorded and live streamed in December. Middle and Upper School will stream its annual ballet with a production of Swan Lake in April.
- Lower School Drama students prepared, in person and virtually, two productions. From 4 recorded and shared their plays, The Cheetah and the Sloth and Three Little Elephants, while Form 5 devised their original script and transformed it into a video production called, Channel 1 News. Upper School students also videoed and shared their drama production, Over the River & Through the Woods, by Joe DiPietro.
- Visual and performing arts students teamed up to collaborate on a chalk-art event, inspired by ArtPace’s annual Chalk-It-Up community festival. Led by the Upper School National Art Honor Society, artists from all three divisions created chalk art to celebrate the opening of the Upper School Musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which streamed to more than 200 families in October. While, Form 8 visual artists were also showcased in a virtual exhibition in the fall.
- The Middle School students in the PhilARThropy Club created a 6-feet-apart campaign, designing and displaying art on campus to help promote safe, physical distancing.
The Success Continues
Fine Art’s additional programs are having success in the virtual realm this school year as well:
- The Cinema program was nominated for Best Film at the 2020 All-American High School Film Invitational in New York City. Cinema also won Best Storytelling at Bexarfest 2021, collaborating with the local nonprofit TEAMability.
- Photography students developed digital portfolios, exhibitions, and their own websites. Upper School Visual and Media Arts tied for first place in the city for the most Scholastic Art Awards, and earned one national Silver Key Award for photography.
- Speech & Debate competed in the 2021 Virtual Texas Forensic Association (TFA) State Tournament and earned 8th place overall in Sweepstakes, making them 8th in Texas. Competing virtually, the Upper School team took 1st place at the Reagan and MacArthur tournaments and the Middle School team won 3rd place at the Making Art while Socially Quarantined (MASQ) Junior National Tournament.
- Music is shining as well with several virtual performances featured on Vimeo this school year, and Upper School music students competed in Region Orchestra and virtual state competitions.
- Students represented at State Visual Scholastic Event Awards.
Learning from the Best
As part of the Fine Arts education and experience, students have the extraordinary opportunity to meet and interact with guest artists who are experts in their fields and art forms. A number of guest artists, including alumni, worked with students virtually and in person in all disciplines. Just a few of these distinctive professional artists include Betty Ward '65, artist; Alexia Salingaros '16, filmmaker; Eddy Soto, professional ballet dancer; Chris Rodriguez, musical theater choreographer; and Alan Cooley, fashion photographer, to name a few.
Fine arts is alive and well at Saint Mary’s Hall. Students and faculty are working together to create new, innovative ways to connect, collaborate, and create art. The arts play a critical role in student development and growth, and help our community to persevere and stand resilient, especially during challenging times. Visit the Fine Arts News & Events page for more information on what’s upcoming.