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  • Writer's pictureEast Spotlight Newspaper

East Artist Spotlight: Leah Goodman

Here, Leah Goodman sits down with an editor from The Spotlight to explain her experience in the world of art in high school. She vocalizes her profound liking of the art classes and community at East, while stressing the vital impact they have had on her passion. After all, as a senior, Goodman is leaving East later this year with a significant resume in the art world. She has completed an AP art portfolio, assisted in creating a mural in Denver, and had her art published in The Spotlight previously. Goodman has also played a critical role in East’s stagecraft department as a lead painter and artist for the sets; her light-up re-creation of an anatomical heart stole the very hearts of all audience members of Urinetown: The Musical. It is easy to examine her accomplishments at the mere age of 17, but Goodman accredits part to East. 

Goodman has taken Drawing and Painting 1 and 2 as well as AP Drawing and Painting. The vitality of the classes proves significant, “This is the first year I haven’t taken an art class, and it’s made me realize how much classes really do encourage me to make more [art].” While some kids are forced to take the beginning art classes as an elective, others make a conscious decision to take them. It might seem redundant to take a class about a concept that isn’t inherently academic, but Goodman has found them beyond critical. “This year has brought to light the real inspiration and creativity that the art classes at East, and in general, nurture artists. I do wish I had taken the opportunity to continue exploring that at school.” Students, especially underclassmen, should take Goodman’s comments as an awakening. East has and will continue to provide an art community—take advantage of it.

When prompted on why she likes art, Goodman responded, “I like art because it’s fun. Because it feels good to just make stuff knowing it doesn't have to mean anything or look good or matter at all. Just making art to play with fun textures and colors and weird ideas is enough. I love seeing what I can put together.” This light-hearted and pure passion is apparent in her work. She explores a variety of “themes surrounding instinct and evolution, as well as situational humanity, intimacy, and math in nature.” Although, she notes that “plenty of my art really has no meaning at all.” If there is one takeaway from Goodman’s insights, it is that freedom can be found in art, even in art classes. There is a natural and organic aspect of the community and process that should inspire all, even if one only has a small wondering, to try art out. 

East High School has historically taken pride in their art class and program offerings. For instance, the music program has existed since the 1970s and has produced artists like Judy Collins and Hattie McDaniel (who also won an Oscar for her role in Gone With the Wind). The fall plays and spring musicals are also consistently popular and seeked-out among the surrounding community. However, many other schools have since lost funding or interest in pursuing them. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “Among all public high schools, 88% offered at least one arts course in any discipline. While 12% of public high schools offered no arts instruction, 12% offered only one of the four arts disciplines, 28% offered two arts disciplines, 31% offered three arts disciplines, and 17% offered all four major arts disciplines.” This refers to four of the main art disciplines: visual art, dance, theater, and music. 

Between prioritizing their core classes or GPA, students have fallen victim to an academic culture. Hustling after a pristine transcript, littered with AP Biology and other honors classes, has become the norm. Athletics and academic clubs have also become the forefront; some students face pressure from their parents to “think of profitable careers,” in other words, refrain from the arts. The NEA also notes that “In the public high schools, as the proportion of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch increases, the likelihood of offering arts education decreases.” This infers that lower-income households have also started to view arts as a frivolous endeavor—a variety of people view art as a luxury. While acknowledging the privilege of pursuing art, it is important to denote that art does not cut one off from other academics. Luckily, there are a plethora of student artists at East who have embraced their passions. They are actively proving how art and academics can coexist by succeeding at both; Goodman is a prime example. 

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