Creativity takes courage: With International Arts Festival this weekend, student artists weigh whether to pursue art as career


Da-Hyun Hong

Sophomore Shannon Xie works on the finishing touches of her acrylic artwork during art cWlass. She said she is extremely picky with which types of paints she uses and usually brings them from home.

Emily Carlisle and Grace Xu

This weekend, Carmel plans to host its 21st annual Carmel International Arts Festival (CIAF). The festival will consist of over 130 juried artists, food vendors, entertainment, as well as an “Art Rocks!” party on Saturday evening.
Joan Cimino, vice president of CIAF, introduced CHS to the festival more than 10 years ago and has worked with the high school art department chairs ever since.
“The Carmel International Arts Festival gives students the opportunity to display their work in a professional gallery setting,” Cimino said via email. “The CIAF also gives all attendees at the festival the chance to speak with the artists about how they produced and marketed their art. They also discuss the cost, time constraint and labor needed in order to display and sell their art in an art festival.”

“However, despite the large number of professional artists who participate in the festival, it is relatively uncommon for high school artists to actually continue into an art major in college. Every student has different reasons for cutting their art career short, but many of them revolve around one issue: the stigma surrounding art as a full time job.

Da-Hyun Hong
Senior Sophia Treasure draws a human face with colored pencils during AP Studio Art. She said she enjoys the relaxed guidelines of the class and freedom it has given her.

Take Sophia Treasure, vice president of Art Club and senior, for example. Treasure designed the interactive “Paint by Numbers” to be displayed at Art Club’s booth in the art festival which allows anyone passing by to paint on the canvas with the corresponding paint colors. Yet despite being incredibly involved in the arts, Treasure said she reluctantly decided not to pursue art beyond high school and relates to the struggle of wanting to continue in it.
Treasure said, “I feel that personally it was unrealistic because there is such a stigma going into art as a career. (People think) art school is just a waste of money and stuff like that. Even if people really want to do (art as a career), they don’t because people will look down on them for it.”

Cimino said she can see why students shy away from art as a career, especially given how little art is supported in conventional school systems.
“There are many reasons why few young artists are encouraged to pursue art as a career,” Cimino said. “In my opinion, many of the reasons stem from the lack of resources, the lack of time and the lack of opportunity. Students aren’t given enough opportunity to explore creative experiences, to think for themselves and to use their imaginations.”
Yet that’s not to say that art is a dead end. Sophomore Shannon Xie is currently taking Painting I as well as Digital Design I, and she said she plans to go into art in her future—albeit through a compromise with her parents.
“I’d like to go into character design for games or maybe TV shows, I don’t know,” Xie said. “My parents used to not be supportive because they wanted me to go to medical school and major in biology. But, I also like sciences, so my mom is fine with me majoring in art if I also do pre-med or if I double major with biology.”
In fact, Xie said her dream future would include the Brown-RISD dual degree program, a partnership between Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Students in this program can pursue both a more “standard” major such as biology at Brown, as well as a major in the arts at RISD.
Whether or not CHS artists intend to pursue art further, Treasure said, the festival will still be an excellent venue for students to display their art.
“I feel like if you really promote students’ art and they see the reactions of people looking at their art, it motivates them to go forward with a career in art,” she said. “If (artists) get their art out there, they may be motivated to do more because they just want people to see their art. And that is what art is for, for people to see and interpret it.”