Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

On display: “brave new worlds”: Student art in local exhibit


Realistic self-portraits, colorful abstract paintings and lively depictions of a moment in time. At first glance, the varying art hanging on the gallery walls appears to be a random collage of work. However, upon closer examination, each of the pieces has one unifying trait: they depict each young artist’s vision for the future.

ArtNow is an annual juried art exhibit for Santa Clara County high schools hosted by the New Museum Los Gatos. The exhibit serves as an educational program to give students an opportunity to display their artwork in a museum and to win scholarships and awards. The 2022 prompt, “Brave New Worlds,” invited students to convey their visions of the future through art.

“You are the builders and leaders of tomorrow,” the prompt read. “Consider what we are growing towards; be bold in your visions of hope, equality, justice and change.”

A total of 580 students submitted their artwork to be reviewed and judged by a panel of university-level art instructors. Of these students, 79 were chosen, four of whom were Paly
students — April Wu, Reese Ford, Gina Bae and Ashley Adji.

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Gina Bae: “Gwangjang Market”

Art: Gina Bae

Intricately balancing bold lighting with saturated values, Bae skillfully recreates her own memorable experience in South Korea at a bustling yet soothing Gwangjang Market.

“I was never treated as an outsider despite my American status and meager Korean vocabulary, which served as a strong contrast when I returned home shortly before the rise of COVID-19 and consequent anti-Asian sentiment,” Bae said. “In the future, I hope for a welcoming ‘brave new world’ that brings all types of people to talk and eat delicious food together despite our differences, just like Gwangjang Market.”

Ashley Adji: “Brilliance”

Art: Ashley Adji

In Adji’s piece, various materials including pencil shavings, tissue and packaging paper on cardboard forms an abstract depiction of an outstretched hand reaching toward an eagle. The painting’s description includes that the gold-painted pencil held in the eagle’s claws represents the brilliance in creativity without the need for perfection, while the scattered cardboard and tissue used in the background emphasize how mundane objects can be an inspiration and the beauty in imperfection.

Reese Ford: “Jeremiah”

Art: Reese Ford

Intertwining nude forms with dynamic and lively colors, Ford emphasizes hope for a future of acceptance. Joyful expressions and poses are also integrated to depict the celebration of diversity in religion.

“For me, my piece was about diversity, specifically within Christianity,” Ford said. “The ‘brave new world’ I imagined was one where progressive theology includes people from different backgrounds and LGBT people.”

April Wu: “A Breath of Fresh Air”

Art: April Wu

A vibrant self-portrait of Wu depicts herself pulling down her mask as she smiles at the floating bubbles surrounding her. Bright light shines onto Wu’s face, a sharp contrast to the darkness behind her — representing the coming of a new future.

“It symbolizes how you’re able to have some sense of relief after the pandemic,” Wu said. “Everyone kind of had a quarantine bubble, but now those bubbles were popped because people interacted with each other … and had a bunch of contact.