March 2021 Artists of the Month

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Robinson’s ceramic elephant (Claudia Robinson)

FARAAZ AZIZ

For the month of March, two students were nominated by their respective teachers for Artists of the Month. The first student was senior theatre technician and stage manager Logan Clarke.
Storytelling through art and skill, Clarke creates worlds onstage. In a conversation with UHS Theatre Arts’ director Ranae Bettger and Clarke herself, Clarke’s ambition, craftsmanship, and artistic skill is revealed. 
“Logan gets along with people of many different personality types. She is a great listener and has a really chill vibe that helps others feel really comfortable around her,” Bettger said. “As a stage manager, dealing with people is key so this is a huge asset to Uni Theatre Arts.”
Logan Clarke is a senior technician who works alongside other artists to bring theatre to life.
“Logan is committed to aesthetic excellence.  She gets that her work communicates- and, as such, whether it is a flower box on the bridal shop facade during West Side Story or it is a slide deck for a production meeting, you can trust Logan to create something beautiful, that supports the story, at a professional level.  Logan is an artist.” mentor and teacher Ranae Bettger said. 
Covid has challenged us all. Communicating with friends in person is nearly impossible, isolated feelings are common, “To say that COVID is the moment of adversity minimizes Logan’s experience, but it is part of my answer nonetheless. Technical Theatre students have been impacted greatly during this pandemic, and none more than stage management.  
Since Friday, March 13, 2020, when Pippin was ripped away from a sold-out theatre, technicians have not been able to practice their art form.  Even as athletics and auto shop students are back, tool and equipment usage is still deemed unsafe for students until our industry has guidelines OR the county reaches the Yellow Tier.  It has been over a year of waiting: Live Theatre is a no-go.  The students of UHS Theatre Arts have ridden many waves of hope and disappointment.  Logan has sought out each opportunity, discovering what theatre is in this new virtual realm, working and training underclassmen to foster the future for UHS Theatre Arts, and always entering with a can-do mindset and eager to make the most of every opportunity.  Logan has remained committed and passionate as others have become apathetic and lazy. Although unsure what the future is for the industry, what her personal life will be like post-pandemic, and where her family and loved ones will be geographical- one thing is for sure- Logan has the grit to handle whatever is thrown her way.” 

Clarke got into technical theatre unexpectedly. “I actually auditioned for the spring musical my freshmen year, however I did not make the cast list, and a friend of mine, who also did not get called back, asked me if I was going to work crew for the musical. I did not know tech existed at the time but I signed up to be on crew and found out that it is my passion.”
Despite her love of her work, technical theatre isn’t without its challenges.
Clarke said, “Some challenges I’ve had to overcome working in technical theatre is time management since the play and musical are definitely time consuming, so one has to  to learn how to attend rehearsal everyday, as well as manage school and homework. I’ve also learned a lot about leadership skills, from being a build crew lead to stage manager, I have continued to develop my skills throughout the years of being a part of the theatre department.” 
Clarke said, “An artist who inspires me is alumni, Ariana Casey, who graduated last year. She taught me almost everything I know and I would not be the technician that I am today without her. Additionally my drama teacher, Ms. Bettger I am grateful for the program she has worked so hard to build and the community that feels like family.”
Another one of March’s UHS artists of the month features senior Claudia Robinson, nominated by ceramics teacher Ms. Tiffany Huff
Robinson started ceramics two years ago and has really gained a passion for the art. Ceramics, making pots, vases, and other items from clay hardened by heat, is a class available for students at UHS to take and is available in 3 different levels: beginning, intermediate, and advanced. Robinson is currently in intermediate ceramics but is still an extremely skilled artist. 
Huff chose to nominate Robinson as one of the artists of the month for her dedication inside and outside of the classroom. 
“She asks a lot of questions and seeks out answers, which as an artist is important to do,” Huff said.
While Robinson only started learning ceramics last year, she immediately found a passion that she was talented at. 
“I chose [ceramics] because I thought it would be a fun class to take,” Robinson said. “It’s super fun to experiment with different building and glazing techniques.”
Last year, Robinson also received an excellence award for ceramics.
“I nominated her last year for the same reasons I did this year”, Huff said. Huff explained that Claudia was a natural at ceramics, and that’s one thing that made her so special. “She’s technically good given the amount of time she’s had with the material. She spends a lot of effort, and you can tell she spends a lot of time outside of class thinking about what she’s making”.
Robinson was also one of the few students that had some of her work displayed in the library during fine arts week. The pandemic hasn’t stopped her from displaying her art through other methods, adding that she also submitted a few of her pieces to online art shows this year. This year she has been working on most of her projects at home since she doesn’t get to spend too much time in class. 
“She has been especially productive in a year like this where I only see her one day a week for 80 minutes. All the onus has now become on the students to be productive, that intrinsic motivation which I think is a challenge for teenagers in general. I’m extra proud of her because she’s not only doing well what it’s hard to do during a normal year, but she’s doing it well in a not normal year”, Huff said, talking about what makes Robinson stand out as a student. 
Robinson appreciates the calmness of ceramics, and how it eases her mind from the stresses of life. Ceramics is the only arts class that Robinson has participated at UHS, but art in general has still made a huge impact on her life.
“It is a time of the day I can make whatever I want and be creative,” Robinson said. “Art gives me time to get out from under all the stress of my other school work and enjoy what I do”
Out of Robinson’s many pieces of art, one of her favorites is her ceramic sculpture of a fantasy animal she made: an elephant turtle. This piece is especially special to Robinson since this was one of her last pieces she made last school year before school was forced to switch to distance learning. 
“It was super fun to make, and it was one of the pieces that made me realize that I had a talent for ceramics and that I wanted to do more of this art in the future”, Robinson said. 
“Last spring, I could see that as a beginner she was emerging to be a talented artist,” Huff said. “Often at Uni we get kids in art classes as juniors and seniors who’ve never had art, and all of a sudden we realize they’re really good at it”. 
Huff commented that even though it’s unfortunate that Robinson started ceramics so late in her career at UHS, she still has a long life ahead of her to make it a pastime or career in the future. 
“I could really see that in her last year. She was unique and technically good,” Huff said.