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Sycamores inspire Calla High art students
Calla High art teacher Natalie Pyers shows some of the ceramic plates that her students made in class which incorporate leaves from the three old sycamore trees in the school parking lot. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

The old sycamore trees in the parking lot of Calla High School are counting their days. They need to come down because their roots are getting into the pipes in the boys’ bathroom. There is no definite date set for their removal.

But their memory will continue to live on, thanks to some students who have preserved the leaves of the trees by incorporating them in some of their ceramic projects. Imprints of the sycamore leaves highlight several of the art students’ ceramic plates, bowls, and other utilitarian household ceramic pieces that were on display at the annual Calla Art Show held Thursday evening in the school cafeteria. In fact, one of those pieces made by David Villa won first place in the ceramics category.

There were four categories all together which made up the entire art show, traditionally held at the end of the school year to show what the students have learned and accomplished during the school year. Those categories were black-and-white pencil, painting (watercolors and acrylics), colored pencil, and pastels.

The big winner overall was Stevie Arrendondo who swept the awards by winning first place in three of the five display categories. Her teachers and Calla High Principal Kathy Crouse were impressed not only because of the execution of her art works but more significantly, because she is a total greenhorn in the study of arts.

“She told us she couldn’t even draw, and yet she drew that,” Natalie Pyers, who teaches Introduction to Art and Ceramics classes at Calla, said gesturing to the black-and-white drawing of a giggling young girl bashfully covering her lips with her fingertips. On the top right hand corner of the mounted drawing is a first-place blue ribbon.

Arrendondo also earned first place in the painting and color pencil categories. Getting the nod from the judges, made up of school staff, in the pastels category was Ruth Holland.

The next step is for some of the students’ works will be the district-wide annual art show and sale. Those who earned ribbons are definitely going to the district event, Pyers said. One display that didn’t win any ribbons but will be sent to the district event is a collection of ceramic tiles hanging down in cascades from a dried tree branch. The tiles are the works of several of Pyers’ beginning ceramics class.

“They make the tile themselves,” she said, from rolling out the clay to drawing the design on the clay. “Then they bisque it, glaze it, then fire it.”

The tile is the first project each student does in ceramics class, because the first thing that they learn is technique, Pyers explained.

Several of the art students have indicated they are interested in becoming a tattoo artist, she said. At least two Calla High graduates she knows of are now working as tattoo artists, Pyers said.

Some of the pieces made by the students in class during the school year were offered for sale during the evening. Crouse said the proceeds will go back to the school’s art program.