Washington County students study art history at National Gallery's seminar

January 21, 2011|BY TIFFANY ARNOLD |
  • Erin Mettille was chosen to study the history of fine art as part of the National Gallery's High School Seminar. Erin is a sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photograpaher

This spring, Erin Mettille and Carolyn Snyder will discuss the fruits of their art history research at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. — a pretty big deal for a couple of high school students.

And they'll be in good company.

Carolyn, a senior at Boonsboro High School, and Erin, a sophomore at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, are studying the history of fine art as part of the National Gallery's High School Seminar.

The competitive program, which began in October, provides regional students with an introduction to the world of art history. The seminar culminates March 5 with a presentation of the students' research and with a showing of original work inspired by their research.

The students were asked to choose an artistic theme, and then they were to explore how artists from different eras explored that theme.

 Erin Mettille, 15, of Ringgold, chose light and is comparing the work of Rembrandt and Monet — two stylistically different artists who revolutionized the use of light in fine art. Research, Erin said, has stimulated in interest in chiaroscuro, the treatment of light and shade, beyond what she used to do with pencil sketches — pick a light source for an object and shade it.

And her family's already noticing the changes.

"She's really starting to come into her own," said Marty Mettille, Erin's mother. Erin is the middle child of five. Her mother used to work as a commercial graphic artist and now runs a construction company. Her father, Paul Mettille, is a systems analyst.

Her parents said she's the most visually artistic of all their kids.

Erin said for her National Gallery project, she was working on a conceptual piece inspired by her home, with horses in a forest, sliced by a stream and with light dappling the ground. The trees seem to provide a haven for the horses. She described it as a cathedral of trees.

"It symbolizes that I'm getting older, I'll be out on my own soon," Erin said. "It represents how I'll be leaving that safe place — that haven — at some point."

Carolyn and Erin were nominated by their art teachers, BISFA visual art teacher Teresa Roberts and Boonsboro High School art teacher Robert Geiman.

"You can define Carolyn by her art," said Geiman, who said Carolyn was a student in his advanced placement studio art class. "It's something she does to exist. Every facet of this girl's life is encompassed in the arts."

Carolyn, 18, of Boonsboro, said her preferred media are photography, acrylic and oil painting. She most likely picked up the interest in art from her father, Bob Snyder, who is a hobbyist artist.

Her brother Sean Snyder, 14, is also skilled in art.

Carolyn said art helped her through get through a hard time in her life. She contracted Lyme disease when she was 8, causing Bell's Palsy and, as a result of the antibiotics, deterioration to her teeth, said her mother, Beth Snyder.

Carolyn said this is the reason it was easy to relate to the artistic theme of allegory, which she chose to research for the National Gallery seminar.

"Life isn't an easy path to go along, but there's hope through art," Carolyn said.

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