Student Art Spotlight: Karis Lee

By Laura Sneller, Opinions Editor

Being extremely talented in both arts and athletics while also maintaining good grades in school is an amazing feat, requiring life balancing skills that could land one a job at the Cirque du Soleil. Most students only dream of attaining this level of well-roundedness, but for junior Karis Lee, this dream is her reality.

Lee has been passionate for art for as long as she can remember. Not only does Lee actively pursue art, but she also participates in both indoor and outdoor track and field, where she is on the varsity sprint team.

“Most of my art is done during [school],” Lee said. “I also take lessons outside of school at VisArts. Track is just everyday after school, with meets on Saturdays, so I do all of my homework on Sunday.”

Lee uses a variety of mediums to express her artistic talent, mostly focusing on acrylic paint on canvas, as well as charcoal, pencil, watercolor and ink. However, she admits that there are some methods that she is interested in trying, such as oil paints. When looking for inspiration, she strays from conventional areas of interest and looks primarily to people who have distinct, interesting features that make them separate from the crowd.

“I like to draw people that have something special about them that makes me want to draw them, something that makes them stand out,” Lee said.

Lee has a large list of accolades. Her artwork is currently on display at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore. She received an honorable mention for the National PTA Reflections Student Arts Awards. Also, Lee won bronze, silver and gold Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, as well as honorable mentions. Furthermore, she was in a competitive show at the Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery and was a runner up for the Congressional Art Competition. Lastly, her artwork was “Best in Show” at the 2017 CHS Arts Fest.

“For [the Reginald F. Lewis Museum art piece] I had to draw a person of color, so I drew Usain Bolt running,” Lee said. “It’s really cool [to have an artwork on display] because everyone gets to see it.”
This year, Lee participated in the Visual Arts Center (VAC) program, a nationally recognized county-wide advanced art curriculum that offers a comprehensive rigorous, advanced studio art curriculum with an emphasis on portfolio development at Albert Einstein High School. Lee goes to Einstein High School every morning for the first two periods of her day before returning to CHS to continue her academic classes.

“It’s very different [taking art at Einstein],” Lee said. “[Einstein] has a lot more resources, and there are [less conventional art forms]like spray painting, and [the program] exposes me to more competitions. Also, everyone at Einstein is incredibly talented and all have their own unique styles, and I get a ton of inspiration from them and learn a lot.”

Lee’s pursuit of art doesn’t end at just in the academic setting, as she also devotes most of her free time to her craft by going to private lessons at VisArts since she was in middle school. All of these opportunities would not be possible if it was not for the support of her parents, who buy her art supplies and encouraged her to try out for the VAC program, and have an active interest in her projects.
“[My parents] always have a say in my work,” Lee said. “They give me a lot of new ideas too.”

Even though her accomplishments seem daunting, and make it seem as if she is superhuman, Lee maintains her friendly, down-to-earth personality around her peers. She is always willing to offer assistance to those in need, and is open to sharing her love for art with those around her.

“She is really passionate,” said junior Kavya Bhattiprolu, who has known Lee since middle school and has taken art class with her. “You can always go to her for advice for your piece, and she will give you tips and ideas to improve it.”

Art is an important part of society and culture at CHS, and can be used in a multitude of situations, from promoting a fundraiser to bringing together student and faculty in hard times. Art can change lives and outlooks, and it is important to nurture these interests in students. Lee’s use of her talent can be seen by her impact on others and the community, as well as in her own life and mind.

“[Art has] definitely given me a different perspective on things. It has helped me notice things that people usually wouldn’t notice,” Lee said.