Eagle River students show off unique talents
Talent overflowed the building Friday as the din of orchestral music floated out the doors of Eagle River High School and into the bright evening sun; on the sidewalk outside the school, pastel chalk drawings welcomed visitors to the school, which for one night each year transforms into an after-hours hot spot that’s almost too cool for school.
Put on by the school’s Fine Arts department, the annual Fine Arts Cabaret is a springtime celebration of the talent department chair Jacob Bera sees every day at the school on Yosemite Drive.
“My biggest motivation for putting on the cabaret is I see good things every single day from our students in the classroom, and I think it’s important for the community to see that, especially in terms of the arts and how creative they are,” Bera said.
The cabaret featured everything from ceramics to pottery to painting to music; the band and orchestra played, the choir sang and overhead slide shows displayed the wealth of visual art created this year by the school’s students.
In the commons area, students showed off their work, proudly telling visitors about their process. In one part of the room, sculptor Cody Butikofer sat at computer monitor looking at a 3-D rendering of Bera’s head. Butikofer explained he took photos of the art teacher, then planned to use the model to create a lifelike sculpture in the computer.
“I’m making the basic shape right now, then I’ll shift into sculpting mode,” he said as his work was projected on a big screen on the wall behind him.
Using computers to create art isn’t just a hobby for Butikofer. After serving a two-year church mission, he plans to study computer design at university with the goal of working for a big animation studio like Pixar.
“That’s my goal,” he said.
ERHS principal Marty Lang said he encourages students to think of the arts as a career, and to that end has started buying works of art from students to decorate the halls at the school. The idea, he said, is for students to learn the value of their work and be recognized for their achievements.
Senior Sara George also plans to go into the arts as a career -- though she wants to become a book editor. George has her own company, LadyBird Editing (slogan: "First ten pages free"), and has so far edited book projects by two fellow students.
“I’m already going," she said, handing over a business card. "I’ve got three published works."
For her contribution to the cabaret, George brought a large number of clay pottery designs she made in art class over the years. She said pottery helps calm her and gives her an outlet for her creativity.
“It gives you something to focus on,” she said. “Your brain just focuses on one thing and you go.”
Painter Sarah Hunsiker expressed similar sentiments. Sitting at a table painting a watercolor landscape, Hunsiker said she started painting as a freshman.
“I like it because it’s relaxing and I can create landscapes like these,” she said, gesturing to scenes depicting a flowing river and a bright sunset.
Bera said the entire band, choir and orchestra participated in the event, as did between 60 and 70 of his fine arts students. The annual event is a student-driven production, with the artists themselves setting up and running the show.
“What I find is that when you really put it on them, they’ll set it all up and they’ll really take pride in it,” he said.
Bera said he thinks the event gives artists a chance to show how valuable their contributions are to the community.
“I think they really see this as an opportunity and they just run with it.”
Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected].