New art show honors women with creativity

National Art Honor Society creates virtual art show to honor Women’s History Month

VIRTUAL GALLERY EXPERIENCE — Visitors can walk through the gallery and click on the artwork. “You can increase the size of individual pieces to really just fill up the whole wall, so I think that allows you to really showcase the piece,” Elias said.

A link to the Artsteps virtual show is at the bottom of the article.

Members of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) have overcome numerous challenges to create a virtual gallery that showcases their artwork this year. The gallery’s theme focuses on pieces that celebrate women and raise awareness regarding struggles and gender inequality that women face in society.
The honors society is hosting the event virtually using a program called Artsteps. The platform allows visitors to view pieces in virtual reality, which simulates a typical gallery experience.
“Our goal for this particular show was to get the community involved in celebrating Women’s History Month, a celebration which has gotten lost in the pandemic,” said gallery manager and senior Eliana Durkee. “On a wider scale, our goal for all of our shows is for them to grow and become more impactful as more students become involved.”
The pieces serve both to honor women and to increase awareness of the challenges they confront.
“There are pieces that address women’s roles in society and gender inequality and the struggles that women have to face,” NAHS sponsor Swapna Elias said. “I think that comes across in the artwork, both as a celebration of women and then the struggles that women face on a daily basis.”
The transition to a virtual gallery has simplified many aspects of the events and has allowed the society to increase the number of shows it hosts annually from four to seven.
“In a normal year, if we were doing the show in person, we would have to collect the artwork and make sure that they are matted or well presented, and then we would have to physically hang the show,” Elias said. “It has actually been more convenient to run these art shows virtually.”
The virtual art gallery program allowed NAHS to include more art pieces and to share their creation with a larger number of people.
“The biggest benefit is the ability to create our own space. In school, we’re limited to the physical gallery, which is often overlooked by students and not very big,” Durkee said. “It is also much easier to decorate the digital gallery and set it up compared to the many hours spent after school when we were setting up shows in person.”
Many aspects of the artistic process have changed following the shift to virtual learning. Students have observed that COVID-19 has prevented them from closely collaborating with one another while creating their pieces, in addition to limiting their access to materials.
“Most people create their art at home now,” sophomore Sydney Kosco said. “I am inspired by other people and their art so COVID-19 and distance learning has somewhat hindered my ability to create art.”
Student photographers have also struggled with constrained access to photography subjects and locations.
“The biggest change for me personally has been what I take pictures of; before the pandemic I greatly focused on people, and because of my sudden lack of [access to] people I have been forced to get more creative with my subjects,” Durkee said.
Although students have faced challenges in creating art during the pandemic, they have also been able to devote more time to pieces and have developed their skills.
“I think, on the positive side, that [students] might have more time to do their artwork. Definitely, there is not the rush of attending the in-person classes and making sure you have all of the materials,” Elias said. “There is a little bit more freedom to create work and manage your own time when you are creating work, so I am seeing a rise in the production of artwork and also in the quality.”
The popularity and accessibility of the virtual shows has led NAHS to consider implementing them permanently.
“We are going to take a lot of what we learned through this and when things go back to normal and we have in-person shows again, we will definitely try to add a virtual component as well,” Elias said.
Despite numerous setbacks, NAHS’s members strive to progress in their artistic skills and to continue creating exciting new pieces.
“I know other artists and other mediums have faced … hurdles being stuck at home without all the materials they used to have,” Durkee said. “This has made us all the more imaginative. Art has always been about expressing our emotions, and monumental changes like all that has happened this past year have fueled our desire to create.”

Visit the NAHS Women’s History Month gallery here.