Art in North Clackamas

Claire Gosson, Editor in Chief

What is art? 


Students and teachers from Rex Putnam and Milwaukie Academy of the Arts (MAA) have been asked this very question involving their views of art and its relation to North Clackamas School District (NCSD). After being allowed to express what art means to them as an individual, their answers connected to their area of study along with other responses. 


Alex Mehigan, a senior at Rex Putnam High School believes that performing arts are a crucial part of visual arts but understands why others would think otherwise, stating, “I think, at least in the broad art community, the performing arts are a huge part of it but I can see how in some people’s mind art is limited only to visual art.” When asked if Mehigan thinks NCSD has given the theater department the recognition they deserve, he responds, “I think that we have had the recognition, but they also come a point where in my mind, of all the statistics I know how much I’ve advocated for the theater arts, there’s a point of which the school system in general, doesn’t really cater to the arts as much as the theater arts caters to its students education and as a whole, theater arts.” Mehigan addresses how the school system, in general, doesn’t recognize that theater has many benefits to students’ education. After questioning what setbacks had come across during Mehigan’s attempt to pursue theater, he replied, “I was born with clubfoot, and I’ve had like eight surgeries on them… When you’re seeing someone on stage walk differently, It just stands out a lot more, so I’ve always been noticed for how I walk rather than how I act…” Mehigan communicates how he had to put in a massive amount of work to walk normally on stage. Mehigan expresses how his habits have reflected offstage, announcing, “Now it has kind of translated into how I walk off stage, so I walk normally now.” Mehigan expresses how he would define art, stating, “I would define art as expressing yourself in any way or shape or form that you feel…I think just expressing myself and being free to do art.” Mehigan’s journey has revealed that visual arts have made an impact on his life and those who surround him. After the interview, Mehigan was asked what word comes to mind when he thinks of art. After a moment’s thought, he responds, “Acceptance.” 


Zoë Lugosi, a senior at MAA has taken a variety of art classes since her freshman year of high school. Throughout her experience at MAA, Lugosi has had a positive experience and believes that she has grown tremendously from the influence of her peers and teachers. When asked how art has impacted her as an individual, she states, “Art is fun and you can get messy. It’s fun to represent art and make people feel happy about it.” Lugosi also expresses how there have been a few struggles when a part of advanced classes such as, “…trying to make my works of art look right and turn in my best work on time.” Considering Lugosi is graduating this coming June, she states, “I’m probably going to Clackamas Community College. I might be taking some art classes there and just working on some fun things!” Lugosi conveys how art triggers inspiration and composing any form of artwork puts her in a comfortable state of mind. 


Mr. Dames, a Spanish teacher at Rex Putnam believes that language is considered a form of art. Similarly to Mehigan, Dames states, “I don’t know that people consider it that way… I do think that there is an artistic component to it, as I am trying to communicate things that I believe in, through different lessons and/or activities that we’re endeavoring, and each day that we’re together.” When asked what struggles he has come across during his years as a teacher, he replies, “I think being a white male tends to have setbacks to it… I didn’t grow up in a Spanish speaking culture. I occupy a position where it’s been very easy for me to maneuver throughout society and move up and down a hierarchy that is intended to be for people of my color and my gender…in a certain light that’s an advantage for sure, but I think it’s a disadvantage… when speaking about certain festivals and or foods or artists or cities… I worry that maybe an obstacle is an acceptance on the part of the student, perhaps, in families.” Dames addresses that there have been topics in which he had to educate himself on because they were unfamiliar due to his background. When asked if the immersion and IB program has been given the recognition it deserves, Dames replies, “No, no, I think that there is a lot of work that students do in this commendable class. I think especially students who have come up through the immersion program and those in their junior and senior years in the IB program do a lot of work and they deserve to be acknowledged. Beyond that, I think the biliteracy seal is amazing…” When requested to express his views of what art means to him, Dames openly states, “I define art as an expression of one’s beliefs and perspectives of the world around them, or of their values, things that they hold dear to themselves, that they’re trying to communicate with others.” Dames has concluded that society is creative by nature and language is an expression of one-self considering concepts, phrases or even words are incapable of exact translation. 


As is shown, art can be defined and categorized in countless ways. Students and teachers have expressed that art sparks creativity and ambition which leads to personal expression. This has been impactful to NCSD because of the variation of visionary classes that have ignited student’s imagination. 


“Art to me means an expression of thought that resonates with the beholder…” – Mr. Dames