Luke Walters is a high school sophomore who can picture what he’ll be doing after college.
An aspiring filmmaker, or maybe a photographer, Walters is one step closer to becoming a professional than most 15 year olds. He’s a member of a new, ambitious student-driven initiative called the Hough High Artist Consortium.
The consortium is a collective of Hough’s visual arts teachers and their students who are interested in selling their works of art to help the school raise money to purchase Mac computers, which are generally accepted as being more compatible for design-based programming.
Teacher Justin Pierce says the school is equipped with standard PCs and that his photography classes have ownership of just five Mac computers. Through the sale of the students’ artwork, he hopes the school will be able to purchase about 25 more Macs by the end of the 2017-18 school year.
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Ultimately, Pierce’s goal is to implement a film/film editing class to Hough’s curriculum.
The fundraising efforts “will bring attention to their work as a whole, but it’s also increasing the technology the kids use,” said Pierce. “A lot of them want to go into the design field as a whole. It’s a really growing job market right now.
“Obviously, Mac computers have a hold on that, a whole section of the job market. That’s what all the designers are working on. Most design colleges are using Mac computers.
We want them to be ready once they get out of high school.”
Walters also sees it that way. He has his own DSLR camera and a Mac computer at home, but his access to the advanced technology during class time is limited.
“It’s so much easier to use a Mac for video editing and photography,” he said. “The desk tops are good for typing stuff but they are limited. They are not as good quality. They have trouble downloading certain stuff. It buffers and takes forever. The MacBooks are made for editing and for pictures. The quality is great. It makes photo shopping easier to use.”
Photo Shop is a popular editing program that advanced photographers use. It is more compatible with the Macs but Pierce says that Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools does not purchase them and does not support their maintenance.
Pierce said individual schools, such as Hough, can make site-based decisions to purchase Macs.
Senior Lexi Paniaha is a good example of how far advanced some of the Hough design students are. She has been interested in photography since she was 11 years old and has found work recently as a wedding photographer.
Paniaha, who is co-president of the photography club, has already had three of works purchased through the consortium including two of a print she named “Clementine.” It combines a water-color painting of a girl as a “fish tank,” in Paniaha’s words, with a photo of an orange tree grove serving as a backdrop.
Sophomore Autumn Stewart has combined two of her passions to produce her artwork: softball and photography. She’s a member of Hough’s softball team and takes pictures of her teammates that she used for a “balance collage” project for class.
“I thought it would look really good, balancing out black uniforms and white uniforms together,” she said. “I made one collage with that and used a bunch of triangles to make it look kind of symmetrical.”
The consortium developed its own website that has images of students’ photos and other mixed media artworks and their selling prices. Interested buyers can complete an online form to request making a purchase.
Another way the consortium is selling its artwork is by having occasional “pop-up shops” on campus in which members display their pieces for spur-of-the-moment sales. Prints range from $5 to $20, depending on the size.
Pierce estimates that sales, which began in late November, have generated about $400 so far. The consortium has a goal of raising $5,000 this school year and raising $5,000 to $10,000 each additional year until all of the Mac computers are purchased.
Pierce says he has also applied for grants to assist in the effort.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information and to view the Hough High Artist Consortium’s works, visit www.j.mp/houghac.