Young Northfield artists to exhibit in Arts Guild show

  • Article by: LIZ ROLFSMEIER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 18, 2013 - 12:24 PM

Northfield High takes its art seriously, and its honors art class is the ultimate expression of that.


Kylie Sletten, 18, received critiques from her classmates during honors art class at Northfield High School.

Photo: Photos by Liz Rolfsmeier • Special to the Star Tribune,

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“I really like how the tree aligns with the horizon line,” says Justin Malecha, 17, cocking his head and pointing to a photo by his classmate, Mari Hougen-Eitzman, 18.

Other students in Northfield High School’s honors art class nod.

It’s Day 2 of critiques on their semester projects, and as they discuss one another’s work, their upcoming spring show at the Northfield Arts Guild has them concerned about presentation.

“I might print them out bigger,” Hougen-Eitzman said. “What do you guys think?”

Instructor Katherine Norrie agrees. She especially feels the time-lapse photo of star trails could be larger. “I think it could be the centerpiece,” she said.

The upcoming show, starting Wednesday and continuing to June 8, will display a range of media and styles.

Malecha, inspired by Banksy-style street art, uses stencils to spray-paint bold, modern pieces — burly bears in red plaid shirts kissing, a triptych of a stag with pink bras and panties caught in his antlers. Kellen Robideau, 17, does charcoals of musicians like A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, Hoodie Allen, Macklemore and Bob Marley.

“I love music, and listening to music is my life,” he said.

Mari Arneson, 17, drew from her Chinese heritage and painted pieces inspired by the Chinese New Year and China’s one-child policy. On one painting, she overlaid the character for her Chinese name on a background of images — a T-shirt, baby shoes, a bottle — from the orphanage in China where she lived.

Northfield High School takes art seriously.

In Art I and II, the foundation classes, teachers drill students on technique. “We want to teach you the skills first,” Norrie said.

It offers 11 art classes, and by the time students get to honors art class, they have been well-schooled in craft, critiquing, presenting and work ethic.

Students must apply for the honors class, and this year, 12 were accepted. They propose their projects for the term and fill out contracts. Arneson said the class allows them more freedom than foundation classes.

“Here,” she said, “you can do whatever you want.”

Students said the flip side of that freedom is a challenge common to many artists: getting started.

At first, Zoe Henson, 18, was going to focus on Americana images. “It didn’t feel like me,” she said.

“I switched over to brighter, happier colors. I work better when I use more color.” She decided to use bright colors to explore themes of nature and beauty, she said, as she talked about her paintings of Twiggy and Brigitte Bardot.

  • related content

  • Honors art student Eme Gruenhagen will show her work at the upcoming show at the Northfield Arts Guild.

  • Amelia Wykes, 17, paints abstract landscapes of places she has traveled, such as China, England and Wales.

  • Justin Malecha, 17, inspired by street art, uses stencil and spray paint for much of his work.

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