All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography. ~Federico Fellini
Last Tuesday mom, Aunt Carol and I, attended the Theme and Variations art gala at the Greater Latrobe High School. This wasn’t a typical high school function. Nope! When Latrobe does something, we go all out, turning the already elegant school entrance way into a ballroom with stations upon stations of hors d’oeuvres and refreshments. The art not only included the impressive school collection consisting of hundreds of pieces of work from established artists curated over the years, but it also included the art hand chosen for the gala. Again, local artists.
Like many, I too take Latrobe’s art collection for granted. Our school halls have always been decorated with an eclectic arrangement of artists using a variety of mediums, even before my grandpap Chester, along with Mr. Fred Rogers graduated from Latrobe in 1937 at the old school (currently Latrobe Elementary School, LES) and long before my mom, who was the first graduating class from the new high school (current location), my Alma Mater. While studying art in high school, we were exposed to the culture that surrounded us on a daily basis. Personally, I wish I knew more about our collection and was required to do so. I have always been proud of the acquired art, and that pride has only intensified over the years. Trying to get that message across to Kyle is a bit of a challenge, or perhaps he does get it but doesn’t want to give me the satisfaction of showing it, either or are very possible with Kyle.
When speaking with those who have not been exposed to Latrobe High School, I always forget about our influence by culture in the arts is a rarity. A privilege not a lot of schools and their students experience. I’ve actually encountered individuals from other learning facilities who were amazed at the quality of the school, especially the art that lines the halls. Usually the comments consist something like “Do they ever get vandalized?” and “How do you protect your art?”. Seriously, until those questions were brought to light, I never thought about it. You see, much like a family, it’s all how your were raised. Latrobe students were raised on the arts, at the very least exposed to it early on. There is always an underlying respect for our collection, which I believe resonates in the minds of the students, whether they are aware of it or not. Like anything, introducing a child to something early and it will be a part of them for life. Unfortunately, sometimes those privileges are taken for granted.
Latrobe is also known for our music programs, athletics and academic excellence, but today I’m focusing on the arts, my personal passion.
What was this gala about? It was an event, not only to view and appreciate local artists, but it was a way to bring the community together to vote on the next piece of art joining the collection. Yes, everyone attending had a vote, as did the Latrobe schools: elementary, junior high and high school. This function brings young and old together, from people of all art appreciation levels and understandings, and all sorts of backgrounds.
In my opinion, Latrobe should be used as an example for surrounding and national schools alike. I believe we have discovered a simple underlying solution to respect for the community, our heritage and ourselves. It not only is present in the art, but how we elevate the arts and bring everyone together to celebrate in our local accomplishments.
When discussing the subject matter of art, the question of ‘What is art?’ always comes to mind. Perhaps it was my education going through the art program at Seton Hill University that always has me thinking, for we were asked to define that very question. To me art is history, whether it’s art imitating life or life imitating art, it can’t be denied, it’s history. There is a specific year always tied to a piece, or sometimes several years. Looking at the paintings displayed at Latrobe High School, usually the year it was completed, directly reflects the happenings at the time, although not always. Still art is a time piece that can be and should be revisited time and time again.
So who was the winner? It was Portrait Study by Mara Light. Her painting also ranked among the ones selected by the students. It’s a beautiful piece of mixed media that included gauze as part of the painting. A truly striking painting that captured my attention immediately.
It was a wonderful night of beautiful artwork, all stunning and very talented artists! I can’t wait until next year’s gala. I wish I was more involved in the arts, after all, Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas are very supportive.
It’s great to see Latrobe excelling in all aspects of learning, especially with their continued interest and support for the arts over all these years. Go Wildcats!
Below is the program booklet from Tuesday. I scanned it to give credit to all the artists, the donors, and to all of those who helped organize the event. Thank you!