Fort Mill Times

Bank near Tega Cay wanted to inspire young artists. Teacher sought right media mix

Leo Leon created this oil pastel from a photo of a friend. She said "Echo" captures emotion.
Leo Leon created this oil pastel from a photo of a friend. She said "Echo" captures emotion. Contributed by Leo Leon

Customers at the Wells Fargo branch near Tega Cay have something visually stimulating to view while standing in line.

A wall is covered in artwork from Fort Mill High School students, a variety of media from acrylic and oil pastel to digital photography. Fort Mill High School art teacher Jessica Calloway said the pieces were chosen based on how the artwork fit the theme.

“I like to showcase a variety of processes to show the wide range of artistic talent we have at the high school,” she said. “The theme I tried to unify the work on display with was ‘Elements of Nature.’ This way the work has a cohesive feeling, yet it was broad to have a variety of interpretations.”

An acrylic painting of an Echinacea flower on display belongs to senior Morgan Parker, 17. She said she created “Bloom” from one of her favorite photos.

“I liked the idea of making it larger and using the palette knife to create texture,” she said.

And seeing her work exhibited for the first time has felt gratifying.

“I like having my work on display because others in the community get to see my work other than just my classmates at school,” she said. “It makes it more worth all the time and effort I put into it.”

Another acrylic piece on exhibit was painted by senior Peyton Tolley, 17. She said “Outer Space Swirls” was inspired by water and its metallic shine when it reflects sunlight.

“By using various sizes and types of art utensils, I created different textures and expressed myself through the swirly line work in this piece,” Tolley said.

Her artwork has been previously shown at Wells Fargo and at Winthrop University Gallery, but she feels just as excited with each new exhibit because her family can support her work and see it on display.

Senior Leo Leon, 17, strove to capture emotion in her oil pastel, “Echo.” Inspired by a photo of her friend, she wanted the viewer to feel empathetic toward the subject in her painting.

“Being monochromatic allows the attention to focus on the mood of the piece rather than the colors,” she said.

Her artwork has been exhibited at Winthrop University and elsewhere in Rock Hill.

“Stronger than a Mess,” created by senior Kacie Fullington, 17, shows an image of a tree with an extensive root system of support. She said this acrylic and India ink piece expresses emotional stability scattered all around.

“This is a landscape I created to display how you can always rise higher than you think,” she said.

Her work was displayed in the Congressional Art Show, a nationwide high school visual art competition. She said each time her work is exhibited, she becomes more determined to create art.

In “Altamont,” junior Kaj Campbell, 16, aimed to make viewers feel as though they’re taking a trip down a mountain road on a bright summer day.

“I chose to recreate a picture I took over the summer on a trip to the mountains with my family,” she said. “This picture also had great foreground, middle ground, background and a great piece to show texture.”

Wells Fargo Senior Financial Advisor Jason D. Mayer said the company wants to showcase the talented students in the community. The branch offers Fort Mill and Nation Ford high students the opportunity to exhibit on a two-month rotation. The current artwork will remain on display through Jan. 3.

According to Calloway, it’s highly beneficial for students to see their work hanging outside of the classroom – it provides them with a feeling of accomplishment and motivation for future work.

“As artists, we create artwork to communicate a story, emotions or ideas – it is a vital part of the process to display the work for others to react, respond or appreciate the work created,” she said. “I am thankful for opportunities that allow our students’ work to be showcased.”

Stephanie Jadrnicek: