WEST ORANGE, NJ — Although the annual art exhibition featuring Advanced Placement (AP) art seniors from West Orange High School was canceled this spring, the West Orange Arts Council (WOAC) made sure that the students received their well-deserved accolades through a virtual art show.

“I walk into my classroom each time excited to see what new things will be created that day,” said AP Art teacher Heather Young, who worked with Carol Lemon-Black from the WOAC to create the program. "My classroom environment nurtures creativity and allows for personal freedom to shine through in everything my students create."

The students involved included Brandon Andrade, Tricia Garchitorena, Olivia Callender, Cassidy Joyce, Christina Gilio-Malabre, Jack Mault, Ruth Donagher and Jason Latchman.

Sign Up for West Orange Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

See statements from the high school artists below or CLICK HERE to view the full exhibit.

Brandon Andrade:

“In order to achieve a life with meaning, one must give themselves a purpose that they abide by. The purpose that I have given to myself is one that pushes me towards improvement in both my physical and mental attributes, and to commit to growth in everything that I am passionate about.

"Art is an old friend of mine that gives me the ability to express my perspectives on life, and to describe my individual philosophies with a pen and canvas alone. I've used art as a communication medium that allows me to express the verbally unexplainable thoughts and dreams that I've had over the years.

"These dreams depict instances of self reflection, or my deepest thoughts that linger my mind subconsciously. I also love to hear about the interpretations of others on my pieces, so if you develop a new idea from my artwork, feel free to share.”

Tricia Garchitorena:

“As the world evolves, so does the way the art I create is composed. Almost everything today can be done digitally…You can communicate with people all over the world with technolog; you can create entertainment with technology; and in today’s era, I am privileged to have access to the wonderful world of digital design.

"Having this advantage, I have been able to create pieces that represent what I believe is difficult to handle about life. Digital art has many uses; and in my case, I am able to create pieces that would have taken twice as long to do in traditional means. I use this canvas as a place where I can express how I feel today’s modern generation struggles to thrive.”

Olivia Callender:

“Ever since I was little I had a pencil in my hands and paper in front of me. My dad and I would often draw together, creating art pieces, each adding our individual touches. We would stay up late just to draw mythical creatures, people and places.

"I remember looking at my dad’s sketches of my little sister and my mother and wishing I could draw just like him. I would sit beside my dad while he worked his architectural drawings for work as I drew pictures of our house.

"As time went on, I was always encouraged by my parents to draw. My parents would buy art kits filled with colored pencils and paints and I would make little drawings of our family or my friends for my dad to put on his office walls. I often doodled on classwork even when told not to by teachers. I could not help but draw whenever I could.”

Cassidy Joyce:

“Art is an expressive form of communication. Throughout my life, I have used art to depict my emotions and have harnessed my creative energy to imagine fabricated situations and bring them to the page. I have found that even when I am stressed or overloaded with work, I can find serenity in art.

"I became interested in art in 8th grade when I noticed my friends also started to pursue it. As time went on, I was encouraged by my friends to keep drawing and creating art. As my art skills have improved, so has my ability to express emotions like on paper.

"I especially focus on portraying people as apathetic, depressed, and/or anxious to reflect some of the feelings I’ve felt before and give a physical representation of them. Making these pieces have helped me deal with these emotions and also put myself in the shoes of others to expand my perspective about the world around me.”

Christina Gilio-Malabre:

“Throughout my whole life, art has been a gateway to expressing my creativity and unique ideas. It has given me an identity as an artist which is actually what my artwork is about. Being an artist means coming up with new and unique ideas, and skillfully executing them which I believe is a fascinating gift, and is what I love most about art.

"In my artwork, I wanted to demonstrate a variety of techniques, so I focused on emphasizing shading, highlights, washes, perspective, and smudging. Applying these different techniques to my artwork has helped me improve and I will be incorporating more into my future artwork. Being able to do my own art and demonstrate my creativity has become one of my favorite things to do, and I can’t wait to make my next piece in the future.”

Jack Mault:

“I have learned through my life that art isn't just putting something on a canvas, but for me, a way to escape the world's problems and admire her beauty. As the entire world disagrees with each other I wish to bring people together to realize the real problem. The division of humanity, and our negligence in keeping our home healthy.

"I've never been the political type but more so social issues like War, Global Warming, Poverty, and most of all, the rivalry between nations, religions and political parties. One artist that truly inspires me is the street artist, Bansky. His work represents a more broad meaning which allows the viewer to interpret his art in their own way.

"As I am a fan of satire, I wish to spread messages across art and philosophy through dark humor and satirical content, while keeping it as independent as possible.”

Ruth Donagher:

“My primary interest as an artist is telling stories. Art cannot exist in a vacuum, and our personal stories and memories make up the very fabric of what makes us unique individuals, allowing us to connect to one another and project individuality onto every piece we see.

"Throughout my life, reading, writing, music and theatre have all captured my imagination at one point or another, teaching me that the story of both the art and the viewer combined are what allow us to appreciate beauty in our world. I would like to think that upon viewing my work, the audience can detect an immediate narrative as well as an aesthetic appreciation for what they are looking at.

"Sometimes this focus steers me towards illustrating a specific written story, but more often it makes me think of every piece of art as a story in and of itself.”

Jason Latchman:

“Change is something that happens at different points in someone's life whether it be for good or worse. For some it’s hard to accept and wrap their head around it and to come to terms with what you once thought you knew and what you now have to accept.

"Through my art, I attempt to show how transgender individuals like myself have a hard time gaining acceptance from other social and cultural circumstances and what we go though on a day-to-day basis weather it be the hardships or the euphoric moments that help shape us into the people we are.

"I use eyes throughout my work to represent either society, family, religious people, or my own viewpoints. I tried my best to visually replicate what I felt while these emotions were present and kind of reliving the memories of them while I put it on paper, some being darker and more complex to work out than the others.

"Everybody feels and deals with their emotions differently; this just happens to be my take on some of them.”