The Paly Voice

Art teacher reflects on new art installments

Leila Chabane and Angelina Wang

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Photo: Angelina Wang.

Art teacher Kate McKenzie types away on her computer in her office. Photo: Angelina Wang. McKenzie stresses the importance of student art around campus. “I like to use the word ‘joyful’, because I think they [the art panels] are really joyful,” McKenzie said. “When you walk out and see these, it’s kinda fun. We just kinda wanted to make it a little bit happier place.”

Art teachers and students are erecting additional art panels within the next 3 weeks on the piers of the 100s building, thanks to a $500 grant from Palo Alto High School’s Associated Student Body.

Map of Palo Alto High School. Yellow circle represents where the current art panels are mounted. Red circle represents where future art panels will be mounted.

Map of Palo Alto High School. Yellow circle represents where the current art panels are mounted. Red circle represents where future art panels will be mounted.

The new panels, joining the existing ones on the 100s building facing Haymarket Theater, will grace the space between the Media Arts Center and the 100s building around to Room 110, according to art teacher Kate McKenzie.

“Everyone liked it, so the school said ‘do more, do more,’” McKenzie said. “Then the school ran out of money, [and] because of that shortfall there wasn’t funding to put the rest of them up. It wasn’t a priority for them to spend money on that.”

The panels are created by AP Studio Art students during the last two weeks of second semester, as portfolios for colleges are typically completed by then. The panels are then donated to the school.

“It [the panels] is their legacy to the school,” McKenzie said. “It’s the donation of their talents to the school.”

To help spread wellness after the student suicides in the district in fall 2014 to spring 2016, the school came up with the idea to spread student art. As part of a review by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Paly set a school-wide goal to address wellness, according to McKenzie. 

Example of current panels hung next to

Example of current panels hung next to the 100s building facing Haymarket Theatre. Photo: Leila Chabane

“As part of our department’s response to that, we decided that we needed to get art around campus,” McKenzie said. “Art needed to not be something students see every once a year.”

Future art projects on campus include panels for building numbers and art in the library, once construction is completed

“I’m going to work with [librarian] Ms. [Rachel] Kellerman on art that commemorates the school,” McKenzie said. “We’re thinking of collages because she’s got all these old newspapers and magazines that we’re thinking of putting into art form.”

McKenzie believes that art has an important impact on students and the overall atmosphere of the campus.

“I think the administration, students, and staff have been really supportive of it,” McKenzie said. “We just kinda wanted to make it a little bit happier place.”

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