The Gunston School’s Fine Arts & Performing Arts Departments held their annual Night of the Arts on December 9 to celebrate the creative talents of its students. Guests booked half-hour gallery tours from 5-7 p.m. and began the evening with warm beverages and snacks. From there, student ambassadors led groups through campus where they viewed a wide variety of paintings, photographs, mixed media prints, pottery, wood sculptures, and even 3D printed projects.
Guests also enjoyed a variety of performances by the handbell ensemble, contemporary band (“The Back Packs”) featuring vocals by Tess Kontarinis ’23, solo acts on the piano and guitar, short films, and a sneak peak of some of the funniest scenes from the upcoming February 25-27, 2022 production of the Gunston Players’ “The Misadventures of Romeo & Juliet.”
Photo: Dean of Students and former performing arts chair Mark Wiening studies the advanced placement art portfolio of Nora FauntLeRoy ’22. “In my various works of art, I chose to explore my backyard. […] I decided to show how I have interacted with different species, and change the perspective of how we see these living creatures. By changing either the size of myself or the subject focused on in my works, I was able to create a different reality of their lives, and make them feel a bit more real.” – Nora FauntLeRoy. Materials used: colored pencil, drawing paper, marker paints, and watercolor.
Gunston’s small class sizes allow faculty the ability to offer students the chance to learn and practice unique forms of art such as silk screening or lithography. Fine Arts Department Chair Victoria Windmiller explains, “Every student learns and practices the basics such as drawing and painting, and everyone has the opportunity to build upon a strong foundation to pursue whatever interest they have, be it traditional photography in our dark room, digital artwork, mixed media, or something completely new. There are an infinite number of ways to approach the same project, and students are encouraged to take their own creative approach and to think unconventionally.”
Challenging students to create their own forms of artistic expression is also something encouraged in the Performing Arts Department, headed by Dr. Ryan Asprion. One such project, “Music in Film Projects” by Yining Wei ’23, Maddie Algier ’23, and Marilyn Prud’homme ’24 is a perfect collaboration of fine and performing arts that includes graphic design (opening and ending credits) and costume design, with the challenge of creating sound effects with non-conventional materials, filming, editing, acting, and even writing and producing infomercials.
Many graduates who have gone on to pursue careers in the arts (including costume design, art conservation, museum exhibition design, film, photography) credit Gunston’s art program as their inspiration, and many more still appreciate and use the skills they learned under Mr. Ben Dize, former chair of the fine arts department who retired from full time teaching last spring (but still teaches the beloved woodworking class each semester).
“My philosophy is that everyone can learn to do art,” explains Mr. Dize. “Not everyone can become a great artist, but everyone can learn to produce a visual image that is satisfying to themselves.”
Founded in 1911, The Gunston School is an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian, coeducational, college preparatory high school located in Centreville, Maryland. Visit gunston.org for more information.