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High school artists shine at Art Walk

by EMILY BONSANT
Staff Writer | June 6, 2024 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — “Thank you for supporting the arts.”

Bonners Ferry High School art teacher Josh Knaggs’ message to the community member as they bought a student’s art at Friday’s BFHS Art Walk.

Main Street was bustling with pop-up displays and art supporters alike as 32 students showed and sold their art. Represented were students were from the high school’s Advanced Art, AP Studio Art, and Independent Study classes.

“Our artists pulled in just shy of $3,000 in sales with about 80 works sold,” Knaggs said. “Students receive 80% of their sales with the 20% going to fund future art supplies for my upper level classes. They get a "wish list" item every semester, special paints or brushes, encaustic wax, niche objects, hardware for jewelry, etc. They dictate what they make and how they focus their energy.”

Knaggs said his favorite part of the Art Walk is seeing work created by students — and the community’s praise given to students for their creative prowess. 

Knaggs said the Art Walk has been part of the final for BFHS art classes since about 2016, but had been limited during COVID. Having the students interact with the public as part of an art show is crucial as it allows them to defend and discuss their work with others, he said.

“I also enjoy seeing them talk about their work to the general public, their eyes light up and it's a very pride-filled moment for their art teacher,” he said. “The art walk has grown exponentially, we stuttered around COVID but we are back to gaining ground and excitement for the process.  I've got students that look forward to it now, and tell younger sets that it's not as scary as they may think, it's actually fun.

Knaggs said the students get a chance to make some money and have, noting it has become a big community event.

“I’ve been looking forward to this all year. To see kids grow and develop artistically is exciting,” he said.

Eli Leyden, who recently graduated, participated in the independent study class and worked in the photography medium. His main focus was on sunrises and sunsets. Many of his photos, surprisingly, were taken on his cellphone.  

He said he preferred using his phone’s camera, since his phone is always on him, making it easier for him to take photos, than with a traditional camera. 

He said when he feels inspired or when he sees something that reminds him of family, he’ll reach for his camera. Many of his photos were taken in north Boundary County in the Copeland, Mt. Hall and Porthill areas.

Also taking part in Art Walk was Avery Zody, who displayed his graffiti style pencil art.

“I like doing my name in different fonts and in bubble letters,” he said, adding he is interested in creating murals in the future and commission work. 

Taylor Sumpter had drawn a collection of animal sketches, noting her most challenging piece was a lion fighting a hyena. In the work, the lion is pinning a hyena by the throat. 

Another recent graduate, Samantha Hiland said she likes making art as it allows her to work with her hands without having much thought behind it. 

“It is nice to not think, stress or worry about things. Just dive in and see where it takes you,” she said, adding that her favorite piece is titled “Bean,” a whimsical drawing of a kidney bean. 

Pamela Copeland focused on digital art this year and experimented in painting with acrylics. She said she prefers digital art as it allows her to use additional colors than a more traditional medium. Her favorite piece was “Mt. Tops” which was a realistic snowy mountain face. 

Many art-goers complemented that piece for its realism, as some had thought at first glance that it was a photo. 

Kadyn Chouinard displayed his photography, many of which were taken at the Daytona 500. He is most proud of the sharp action shots he took, such as a jet stream from the flyover. He had never taken the class before, but felt that he came away with vision and had fun taking the course. 

Abigail Hodges displayed her stippling technique in many of her artwork displayed at the event. Her favorite piece on display was a picture of Darth Vader, which she said took her three weeks to do.

When explaining the process to create the piece, she said she first sketched out the design then went over it in pencil to get the shape and shading. From there she began stippling, or using dots to create shape. 

She said in Vader’s right eye she tried to create the reflection of trees. 

Hodges said that since starting the class her art has improved. She was in the AP course and was required to have a portfolio including five pieces of art with 15 art process photos, which includes journaling the process of the piece. 

“I want to thank the community for their support of the arts, and our creative Badgers,” Knaggs said. “Having students see that art can be a viable way to make some money, or even a living, is a special support from everyone in this county. I appreciate the validation of my students' efforts in every conversation they had with the folks that walked around downtown Bonners.”

“We look forward to seeing more of you all next year,” he said. “Until then, keep creating for the sake of creating.”

    Samantha Hiland and Pamela Copeland showed their acrylic and digital art at the BFHS Art Walk on May 31.
 
 
    Abigail Hodges showed her stippling skills in her "Darth Vader" drawing at the Art Walk on May 31.
 
 
    Eli Leyden displayed his photography at the Art Walk.
 
 
    Taylor Sumpter displayed her "Lion and Hyena" and other drawing features animals at the Art Walk on May 31.
 
 
    Eli Newell with his painted guitar, which sold at the BFHS Art Show on May 21.