The visual and performing arts are an integral part of the Steward experience. Spartans of all ages discover the wonders of artistic expression on the stage, in the classroom, through music — and through connections with the broader community.
Students in Upper School Visual Arts Teacher Kristin Snellings’ class recently enjoyed a hands-on lesson from Richmond-based artist and metalsmith Sarah Tector, who talked about her educational path and career trajectory. As she spoke, she shared samples of her work: geometric, architecturally influenced jewelry in sterling silver, cast bronze, powder coating, and other mixed materials. Then, it was time for students to delve into the materials in front of them: copper discs, earring hoods, jump rings, and metal stamps. Each student created a unique piece of metal jewelry, adding texture by using metal stamps embossed with letters, numbers, and designs. Some of the young artists also worked with copper wire, fashioning rings or figures.
Braylan Rice ’25, who created a pendant using an iron circular slab and metal stamps, said, “Ms. Tector was a wonderful instructor. She gave us a very helpful visual of metal handling and how to make jewelry, which was super cool! Ms. Tector had a perfect balance of supervising the new handcraft that we were trying, while also giving us creative freedom.”
This school year, Ms. Snellings’ students have been stretching their creative wings by alternating between 2D and 3D work. They recently finished making life-sized clay shoes (some realistic-looking, and others more whimsical) in conjunction with an initiative that students in the Entrepreneurship Studies Program created for local business Saxon Shoes. Under the guidance of Melissa Freed, Entrepreneurship students pitched an art gallery idea to the owners of Saxon shoes last spring in an effort to get more community involvement and teenage shoppers into the store. The gallery, which will feature shoe art from Ms.Snellings’ students, and from other schools in the community, will take place in April. The gallery is also a contest; visitors to the store can vote for their favorite piece of art (and receive a Saxon coupon), and the winner of the contest will receive a gift card.
This year, Ms. Snellings’ students also created Islamic art designs in various media — printmaking, watercolor, and ceramics — in connection with two of their other classes, which examined Islamic art through the lenses of history and math. Their artwork is on display in the Paul R. Cramer Center for the Arts through March 17.
“My hope is to have one or two visiting artists each year visit class to help connect students to working artists,” said Ms. Snellings. “That way, they can see ways in which artists can develop a career out of their work and gain insight into artists’ personal style, skills, concepts, and goals.”