Mundelein art students participate in tenth year of state exhibition


Photo submitted by Jonathan Pruc

Junior Rey Palacios looks at student artwork at the Bridgeport Art Center which hosted the IHSAE.

Hadyn Nuttall, Sports/Entertainment Editor

   Every year Illinois high school art students are given a chance to submit their work to the Illinois High School Art Exhibition, IHSAE, to contend for scholarships and have their art displayed in a gallery in Chicago. Mundelein is one of about 100 schools who participates. MHS art students are selected by art teachers along with a panel of staff to submit a piece to the Northern Regional Art Exhibition or the Senior Scholarship Exhibition.

   This year 15 MHS students participated in various categories with 12 of them having their work chosen to be in the exhibition. “I’m just excited that I got to show my work to other people and I’m also really excited to see other people’s work cause it’s really inspiring too that other people my age are doing all these cool things,” said junior Jaxon Wasseluk whose piece is in the exhibition.

   Art ConnectEd (which runs IHSAE) was started in 2013 by Illinois art teachers to give art students a chance to compete and share their talents at a state level similar to athletic competitions offered. 

   “Art ConnectEd is this overarching non-for-profit that was started by a group of our teachers to fill a hole they saw in our state exhibition,” said Jonathan Pruc, one of the art teachers at MHS. “This is based off IHSA which has their state qualifying and state competitions. There was nothing like that for visual arts. So this is a hundred percent an art program created by our teachers for art students.”

   The MHS art teachers, Jonathan Pruc and Kevin Shifley direct the Northern Regional Exhibition and the Senior Scholarship Exhibition respectively. 

   IHSAE also provides an opportunity for students to connect with art schools and earn scholarships for Early College Programs, programs that offer students a chance to spend a week or two at an art school over the summer.

   “I think [the] gem that those kids can win is [to] go to a real art school for a week or two in the summer, you get to work in their studio with their professors and kind of test drive the experience,” said art teacher Kevin Shifley.

   Through the Senior Scholarship Exhibition students also have the opportunity to receive scholarships for art school. This year through the scholarship opportunities offered by IHSAE, MHS students received a total of $1,591,500 in tuition money.

   Shifley said that the exhibition is a great way for kids to connect with colleges throughout their high school art career, “A lot of students are getting multiple scholarships and colleges are using this as kind of like recruitment.”

   IHSAE was started as a way to recognize the hard work and talent of art students and help them learn about the opportunities they have to pursue art in their future.

   One of the goals of the exhibition is to make students aware of their post-high school opportunities with art. IHSAE tries, “to help promote students and connect them with art schools because a lot of people know Columbia downtown and the Art Institute, but there are hundreds of smaller art schools all over the country that are available for students,” said Pruc. “There are also hundreds of state schools that have excellent art programs.”

   Throughout the year the goal of the MHS art department is to foster creativity and help students build the skills needed to make good art.

   “We are definitely trying to give our students a robust experience. Even if you’re not going to art school we want you to walk out of here and be able to say you’re proud, you learned something, you made something, you did something right, you know that you created,” said Shifley.

   The goal of IHSAE and the art program at MHS is to foster a place for students to express themselves through art for however long and in whatever way the student chooses to.

Pruc said art can be an important tool for anyone, even students who don’t want to pursue a creative career, “Everything in the world has been created by an artist, whether. You

know, drawing the design of this remote control or the water bottle, like there’s an artist or a creative person at some level. That’s a skill that serves you in any field that you’re in. You need creativity.”

   Art and creativity are a skill that help with self-expression and problem solving and are transferrable to many aspects of life. Many people find a home with art. 

   “I like that you can literally put anything that you’re feeling into your art. You don’t have to explain it with your words because I’m kind of shy and I don’t know how to explain things as well but I can show that through art,” said Wasseluk. “It’s a really nice feeling.