First Student Identity Showcase

Installment of new OPHS showcase

First+Student+Identity+Showcase

Jennifer Hankins / Twitter

Angie Bleau and Zoey Mortazavi

After months of preparation, the final installment of the Student Identity Showcasetook place throughout the week of Feb. 28. 

“The goal was to have different forms of student expression — the art work, the ribbons, and the handprints — in the exhibit and I’m proud to say that we achieved that goal through the Showcase. We also gave teachers a bumper sticker that says ‘the future is inclusive’ as a way to show their support for the event in their classrooms,” English teacher Jennifer Hankins said. 

Topics of the art varied significantly, from areas such as mental health to school violence. Student artists utilized their skills to reflect important issues that teenagers everywhere grapple with; they did this while showing awareness of the commonality of those student experiences.

Creating an event like the showcase came with its challenges. 

“A challenge we had was with the site. We had gone through the appropriate channels of DETF in order to make this event successful. However, the Friday before the event we had a lot of complications with the site. There were issues with certain pieces of the art. The student artists and I pushed that the Student Identity cannot be stopped or censored. These pieces of art reflect the issues that students go through and there is nothing that can change that reality,” Oak Park High School senior and organizer Amaan Nabel wrote to the Talon.

Even with roadblocks, students persevered. The students were hoping to start the conversations about these topics within their classes to try and develop a better understanding.  

The biggest strength, I think, is that students really wanted to take action on diversity and inclusion. Not a lot was happening, but there was a lot of talk. There was a small group of students that really just wanted to be seen and heard,”  art teacher Anna Mendez said. 

The artists that created the work were Rowan McKenzie, Polina Sysoeva, Kimia Nuban, Sebastian Garcia, Alicia Cortes, Mia Castellanos, Piper Dobson, Bella Nejad, Nahlini Hauser and Madeline Pelc. 

Jennifer Hankins / Twitter

Our ASB president Amaan, headed up this whole activity week and he had in mind student artists that were not only exceptional artists but they were passionate about Student Identity Week,” Mendez said. 

Students felt that the art addressed relevant issue.

“Overall, I thought it was a good idea and had good messages on it that needed to be addressed like the cat calling or the ID one where it said, ‘when will it be enough,’” junior Karina Brewer said. 

According to organizers, art is a powerful tool to help inspire discussion on these issues.  

“Students feel more empowered in being able to express themselves and the issues that matter to them through art. Through the artwork exhibited, the viewers can connect and relate to the issues and know that they are not alone. Hopefully, the awareness will create conversations about issues that often don’t get discussed and they will feel inspired to continue the self-expression beyond the event,” Hankins said.