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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Art in Unusual Places coats campus with color

Veronica Qiu
Palo Alto High School’s Ceramics and Sculpture class created sculptures of mannequins and placed them around campus. According to Ivy Lee, an art student participating in Art in Unusual Places, the celebration brightens the campus. “It kind of lightens up your day when you look at all these interesting things around the school,” Lee said. “It’s just something that makes Paly look very unique.” (Photo: Veronica Qiu)

Palo Alto High School’s Visual and Performing Arts students face challenges with the rain during Art in Unusual Places while presenting various mediums of art in efforts to spread awareness of VAPA courses this past week. 

As an annual tradition each January, students’ paintings, drawings and sculptures, accompanied by musical performances, are displayed in various corners of the school.

Art teacher Tracey Atkinson is one of the staff members who leads Art in Unusual Places. According to Atkinson, this week encourages students to showcase the efforts that students have put in their pieces from art class. 

“It’s a time when we try to get as many different art forms out there as we can so that students’ hard work and perseverance can be seen,” Atkinson said. 

Working behind the scenes in Art in Unusual Places comes with its own challenges for both students and teachers. 

This year, increased rainfall has led to obstacles for the celebration. According to Atkinson, a lot of her time was spent in photocopying her students’ pieces, since their  original works can be damaged by the rain, stolen, or vandalized. 

According to sophomore Ivy Lee, a student in Atkinson’s art class, the rain has provided another set of difficulties. 

“This year they let the painting and drawing students draw chalk art, right next to Haymarket theater,” Lee said. “But the only problem was that it was only there for […] less than a day because it rained. It was all flushed out.” 

Despite the obstacles that VAPA teachers and students have faced to bring Art in Unusual Places to Paly, the impact it brings to the school is ultimately worth it, Lee said. As a fellow artist, she finds herself appreciating the hard work students have put in the pieces. 

“Last year, when I was a freshman myself, I had a really nice time looking at sculptures and works of art that were around the school during that time,” Lee said. 

Although paintings and sculptures cover a lot of the campus, there are also other forms of art represented by the event. The choir had a performance in front of the library last week, bringing music to the school. 

Junior Aiden Chen, a member of the choir and the Advanced Vocals class, performed with the group in the halls of the library during the celebration. According to Chen, his experience was positive despite having to deal with technical difficulties of sounding good in an unconventional space and overcoming his fear of singing in public.

“I think that after the initial hurdle of self-consciousness, I enjoyed the experience, like the rest of my performance, because it boiled down to a fun time singing with friends,” Chen said.

With so many involved in bringing Art in Unusual Places to Paly, the celebration provides not only an engaging experience for the students enjoying the art, but also the performers and artists, who get to share their hard work with the rest of the school.

Even though artworks can be found all over campus, there are still many who are not aware that the event is going on.

“It wasn’t advertised as much this year, just for whatever reason,” Atkinson said. “Changes with some new teachers and the weather have all contributed to making the celebration a bit of a challenge to uphold.”

Despite all the drawbacks, Art in Unusual Places serves as an iconic tradition each year that achieves the goal of presenting art to the public and casting more attention on the VAPA classes. 

“I know that, from personal experience, I never go out of my way to enjoy visual art, but Art in Unusual Places helps in presenting myself with more avenues to enjoy such mediums,” Chen said.

According to Lee, the celebration livens up the campus with its artworks and performances carried out by students.

“It kind of lightens up your day when you look at all these interesting things around the school,” Lee said. “It’s just something that makes Paly look very unique.”

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About the Contributor
Veronica Qiu
Veronica Qiu, News Editor, Webmaster
Veronica Qiu (Class of 2026) joined The Voice in her sophomore year. Outside of journalism she enjoys crocheting and listening to K-pop.

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