ROXBURY, NJ - A "rising star in the art world" will be the theme artist of this year's Roxbury High School Festival of the Arts, taking place May 17 at the high school and open to the public.

That artist is New York based Lala Abaddon, who has been working primarily with the Photo II classes doing photo weaving, said Roxbury photography teacher Renee Zengel. Abaddon will be at the arts festival, which  runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"Abaddon "spoke to almost all other art classes to get every student involved in a weaving project," said Zengel in an email. The students' creations will be on display at the festival, Zengel said.

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"Lala is also working with students to create a large scale installation similar to one she has created during a residency she did at The Red Bull House of Art in Detroit," Zengel said. "Lala is an energetic, intelligent and genuine person. All of the kids already love working with her.

At this year's festival, the Roxbury High School Performing Arts Department will feature dance and Broadway theater and a concert by Eisenhower Middle School students. Refreshments will be made and served by the Family and Consumer Science classes, and the high school Industrial Arts Department will display woodworking, computer arts and drafting, CAD and 3-D design. 

“Our upcoming artist-in-residence is going to be our biggest one yet," Zengel said. "Lala Abaddon is a rising star in the art world and we are so lucky to have her come.” 

Roxbury High School Fine Arts Lead Teacher Joann Hughes echoed Zengel’s sentiments. “We’re very excited about our theme artist," she said. "Through the artist-in-residence program, she will work with the Visual Arts classes to create an installation which will transform the high school lobby into an otherworldly experience.”

Abaddon began a 4-week stint as the school's artist-in-residence on April 13. During her residency, she went through two variations of the photo/paper weaving process. Photography students were to be given the initial assignment to take photos, over the course of a week, of anything in their environment that inspired them, such as family, friends, nature and paintings. 

“Students will learn to compare their photo compositions and comprehend the way color interacts with color and how form changes that by choosing two of their photographs and creating a weave pattern to then weave them together," Zengel said when Abaddon's role was announced. "From there the students can get creative, experimenting with the skills taught to them, but also with their own ideas and ways to change the process.”

The students were able to weave 2- or 3-dimensions, include lighting, paint, embroidery, crystals, and other materials into their work, Zengel said. Abaddon’s objective was “to instill in the students the confidence that they can physically create beyond what they ever imagined. To challenge them to think outside of the box and problem solve within the realm of art. To teach specific technical skills related to photography, paper weaving, and sculpture and to inspire self-confidence in each individual and encourage teamwork in the larger installation process.”

Abaddon's work "seeks to examine that dual nature of binary relationships with parallels that give shape to their physical existence. In her woven photographic work, she integrates a milieu of components in her process," according to a press release. "The repetitive sequencing of her teaching pushes the boundaries and blurs the lines of traditional analog photography. The layering, altering, deconstruction and reconstruction of her large-format chromogenic prints bring together deliberate motions of hand-paired imagery."

Abaddon, of Brooklyn, NJ, is being considered for a permanent public installation with the New York City MTA Transit System, accordinf to the press release.

More information about the festival can be found here: