Talented art students showcase homages to genres of art long past

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By Celina Wu
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For the past couple years, sophomore Joey Parrish has been creating one-of-a-kind artwork by utilizing spray paint. He features various diverse subjects in his paintings, such as sunsets, eyeballs, cityscapes and space themes.

Parrish is among the countless student artists here. However, while much of the artwork of these students is of a more traditional form, including painting or drawing, Parrish is unique in his choice of medium.

“I like spray painting because it’s an original, creative, fast and fun hobby,” Parrish said. “I like the vivid colors along with that general affect of ‘wow.’ I like the freedom and the relaxation it provides for me.”

Parrish began experimenting with spray painting four years ago after he visited Sacramento, where he saw a spray paint artist on the street. Parrish said he closely observed the artist’s technique, bought some of his paintings and took home with him the idea of this art form. From there, he said started to educate himself on how to spray paint by keeping in mind the spray painter’s methods and by viewing video clips from YouTube that showed other artists’ approaches.

Parrish said he has a certain process that he goes through in order to create spray paint pieces that feature space and planets. He said, “It begins with a primary layer paint, let’s say yellow, and then I cover that up with a secondary color, like red. Now, I take a newspaper, a magazine page, a sponge or whatever makes the kind of texture I want, and I apply it to the two layers of paint. As I pull back the texturizer, it rips some of the secondary paint off for the primary color to show through. Now, I have a mixture of red and yellow. For the next step, I spray a portion black for the shadowed side of the planet. Finally, I carefully place the selected stencil, like coffee cans or pots, on and fill in the space around it with, well, space.”

Certain barriers exist for artists who do nontraditional works, like Parrish. Art teacher Jonathan Kane said via e-mail, “It seems that when you become unconventional with your art, you really step outside of existing boundaries. That’s when you really start to push the edges of what has come to be ‘acceptable.’ Contemporary artists create in an amazing realm of art, but not everyone can open up to accepting what is difficult to understand. So what might be considered as a barrier to unconventional art is that some people just don’t get it. You can’t please everyone, but then I think unconventional artists are more interested in expression than in pleasing everyone. Artists sometimes are just looking for a reaction, and that reaction creates a communication between the artist and the viewer. It’s not always important that the reaction is a positive one, but just that one has been given. So even with a barrier of misunderstanding, the artists can be successful in eliciting a reaction of any kind.”

In contrast, Jay Renshaw, art student and junior, said that he creates traditional art through drawing or painting. He said, “I like realism because I think even if you draw something realistically, it gives a heightened sense of reality and improves on life.”

Renshaw said that he would choose traditional art over more unconventional types because traditional art comes more naturally to him. “I think although I can and have done some expressive pieces, it requires more of a forced mentality for me because I’ve always been taught realism. I also definitely think that unconventional art has its place in the art world, but personally I have trouble doing it myself,” he said.

Despite the distinctions between traditional and unconventional art, people have diverse tastes in art, and there are many who appreciate one or both of these types of art. Kane said, “I think the more you know about art, the more you can appreciate different types of art. The key is to be open-minded.”