From trash and doodles to showmanship, art students at Willmar Senior High talk about their journey – West Central Tribune

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WILLMAR — Ruth Navarro-Garcia’s interest in art began with waste.

“I used to grab little bits of trash, like plastic bottles, and make stuff out of it when I was younger,” she said. “I also liked to color.”

For Carter Bastin, her interest in art began with “the usual elementary school doodles.”

Ruth Navarro-Garcia opens containers of paint before working on her ‘Seasons’ sculpture project at Willmar Senior High School on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Navarro-Garcia, 18, and Carter Bastin, 17, both seniors at Willmar Senior High School, won best performing awards at the Minnesota State High School League Regional Art Show.

The state competition is later this month.

Their works are exhibited in the common space of the school.

Bastin’s digital work, titled “Urban”, depicts a woman from behind, her blonde hair tousled in a breeze. She gazes at a grainy cityscape in muted grays, browns and blues.

Navarro-Garcia’s ceramic sculpture is called “I am different” and features delicate butterflies mounted on a heavy base. One is bigger and more colorful. “The biggest butterfly is a unique person and the other butterflies are the same; they don’t stand out,” she said.

Their teacher, Jessalyn Canavan, said she enjoyed hearing the comments when she submitted the pieces to the contest – “watching other kids stop or the teacher from (Alexandria Technical and Community College) stop and say “wow”.

Art Students WHS 010.jpg
Willmar Senior High School senior Carter Bastin’s award-winning artwork is on display at Willmar High School on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Art Students WHS 009.jpg
The award-winning art of Ruth Navarro-Garcia is on display at Willmar Senior High School on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Both students credit Canavan’s ninth-grade art class for giving them direction.

As a freshman, Bastin drew on paper, but as a hybrid learning junior, he began working with drawing on a screen with a stylus.

Navarro-Garcia said she had a ceramics class in college, but “something different happened when I got here,” she said. “I started to fall more in love with clay.”

Willmar High School Carter Bastin creates digital art on her tablet using a stylus in Jessalyn Canavan's art room on Thursday, April 28, 2022.
Willmar Senior High School senior Carter Bastin creates digital art using a stylus on his tablet in Jessalyn Canavan’s art room Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Navarro-Garcia said she likes to represent a mix of nature and the abstract in her pieces. She has also made cups and plates, but has yet to sell her work.

“I have a lot to learn about the business side of art,” she said.

Both students plan to attend Ridgewater College after graduation.

Bastin plans to study to be an electrician and hopes that art will become his job at some point. “I’ll do art on the side until it kicks off,” he said.

Navarro-Garcia said she plans to become a massage therapist. Her future plan is to be able to save her money to go to a bigger university to study art “and have a business next door where I sell pottery”.

Navarro-Garcia, Bastin and other advanced-level art students prepare to submit their projects for their advanced-level tests.

Artwork from Willmar High School Carter Bastin is displayed in the school hallways on Thursday, April 28, 2022.
Willmar Senior High School Carter Bastin artwork is on display in the school hallways on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Students are given a question to answer or a theme to represent in their art. They also submit a collection of their top five pieces.

Bastin’s question was “What would fashion and architecture look like in the future?” He developed digital drawings of rich cityscapes and a few “grungy” scenes to illustrate his vision, he said.

A piece of Ruth Navarro-Garcia
A piece from Ruth Navarro-Garcia’s “Seasons” sculpture project is at Willmar Senior High School on Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Navarro-Garcia received the theme of “seasons”. Last week, she was working on a sculpture of delicate snowflakes hanging from an arch and planning to glaze a piece depicting autumn leaves.

Advanced level students also had to write about their question or topic.

“They want to know that you can act like an artist, but also think like an artist,” Canavan said.

Jessalyn Canavan, art teacher at Willmar High School, shows off pieces of Carter Bastin's work in the halls Thursday, April 28, 2022.
Jessalyn Canavan, art teacher at Willmar Senior High School, shows off pieces of Carter Bastin’s work in the hallways Thursday, April 28, 2022.

Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

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