Reminder Publications | Arts festival is bittersweet exhibition for Agawam seniors

| Mike Lydick


Agawam High School senior Amari Hatcher said she’s had an “artistic personality” since she was very young. She is standing in front of her work exhibited at the high school’s spring arts festival on May 4.
Reminder Publishing photo by Mike Lydick

AGAWAM — The high school’s annual spring arts festival gives students who are members of the National Art Honor Society the opportunity to show off various art projects they’ve created throughout the school year.

Projects at this year’s festival on the evening of May 4 ranged from acrylic and watercolor paintings to pencil and charcoal drawings to mixed media pieces. The school’s cafeteria become an art gallery for juniors and seniors in National Art Honors I and Honors II classes to exhibit their talent and their artwork.

Amber Waters and Rebecca Osborn, who teach the art honors courses, said the arts festival is a way for their students — especially graduating seniors — to share their work with the public, families and supporters of the arts.

“The artwork on display reflects the talents of our students,” said Waters. “We are very proud to display their work.”

Three of the 18 graduating art honors students, Huda Sarhan, Amari Hatcher and Julianna Hunt, talked about why they enjoy working on art projects, their future plans and why their final arts festival. 

Huda Sarhan has been creating art since she could hold a pencil.

“I find art projects to be a great outlet for expression. It’s such a nice way to be able to just show how I feel without having to say it,” she said.

She said all the arts festivals have meant a lot to her, but this one is sad and sentimental since it’s her last one.

“It’s something I’ve dedicated so much time to. And it’s something I’m so passionate about. Seeing it come to an end makes me really sad,” said Sarhan, who is headed to Smith College.

Sarhan said the arts festivals are a good example of why there should be more funding for the arts in schools.

“The work students here have created is very impressive. More people should take note of that and look at their students to see the things they’re producing,” she said.

She credits Waters for doing “a fantastic job” of teaching her and other students not just about improving their art skills, but also how to exhibit their work.

“These arts festivals have been such good practice for setting up our art properly so that it looks aesthetically pleasing,” she said.

While Sarhan is planning to double-major in government and world literature, she’s not abandoning her art in college: “It’s always meant a lot to me as a hobby. I’m going to take as many art classes as possible — it’s one of the perks of attending a liberal arts school.”

Creating tattoos is Amari Hatcher’s passion. Her “huge dream” is to one day open her own tattoo shop. Hatcher said she’s had an “artistic personality” since she was very young.

“It’s been a big part of my life,” she said. “I was known as the girl who could draw, or who could draw really good, or was an artist. It’s my biggest form of expression. Doing something verbally isn’t my strongest suit.”

For her, art has been a way to let people know how she really feels without using words.

“I’m very much an expressive artist — even though I do leave a lot of my artwork up to interpretation. I like to let people think when they see a lot of my pieces, so I don’t put a put a permanent meaning on the things I make,” said Hatcher, who plans to major in fine arts at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

She said this year’s arts festival is a reminder that her high school career is ending.

“It’s sad, but it’s coming off on a good note — and that makes me really happy,” said Hatcher. She used some of her work exhibited this year to build her portfolio for college.

Her ultimate goal as an artist is to serve people with her art.

“It kind of circles back to wanting to be a tattoo artist. I want to make people happy, even if it is decorating their body in a permanent way with my art,” said Hatcher.

As a young girl, Julianna Hunt was more interested in the hands-on aspect of art, such as crafts. But that changed in junior high school.

“As I progressed and took more art classes, it was the visual aspect — painting and drawing — that I’ve really grown towards,” she said. “I love painting. I love the way I can manipulate colors. And it’s just so much prettier than drawing. I use mostly acrylic because that’s what I have on hand. I’ve also worked with wash paint, which is pretty fun. It’s a mix of acrylic and watercolor paint.”

Hunt said her last arts festival is bittersweet.

“I’ve really grown fond of this honors art class. So, I’m both happy and a little sad about it. The festivals have been an opportunity to share our work and to see other people’s work — and then have all the families come see our work,” she said.

She is still undecided about her major when she enters Mount Holyoke College, but is considering something with math. She also wants to take some art classes just to get the experience of learning art at a college level.

Hunt was also one of three Honors II seniors who were surprised during the festival with scholarship awards. In addition to Hunt, the other winners of this annual scholarship are Zahide Cure and Mia Johnson.

Waters, who announced the scholarships, said the three were selected based on their dedication and support to the honors program, high standards in their work, and their love of learning. Their scholarships will be presented at a special scholarship awards night for seniors in June.

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