Chagrin seniors “write their story” through art


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Harrold, Jenivy Par, and Megan Larkin

Whether through canvas, camera, or clay, students create art every day at Chagrin Falls High School. 

For senior Megan Larkin, they’ve tried as many art classes as they can. Taking on both AP 2D Design and Photography, Larkin has loved exploring themself in both mediums. They’ve especially enjoyed the amount of creative freedom art classes allow.

“It’s not just photograph this or that, it’s like as long as you use this technique, do whatever you want,” Larkin explained.

Over time, their art has drifted towards macabre styles – the gruesome and gory details of art. Their interest is reflected in their own collection of dead bones that includes horses, turtles, minxes, foxes, catfish, and a raccoon that’s still decomposing.

“I love bones. I have a mummified heart and lung of a squirrel,” Larkin added.

They’re currently creating a film roll of the techniques they’ve learned throughout their photography classes. With a mix of stop motion, action, perspective, and displaying their knowledge of the rule of thirds, they’re making a film that not only displays their own prowess in photography, but also educates others on the basics of the class.

“Your art can be whatever you want it to be,” Larkin emphasized as the biggest thing they’d learned throughout the years.

One of their favorite pieces resulted from a candid photo of their dog, Winter, that turned into a stop-motion video. “I threw the ball and then she just lined it up perfectly between her and the ball. And so she was in a beautiful running motion and it was just absolutely great,” Larkin described.

They also worked on a digital piece in Portfolio Prep Drawing last year where they explored their interest in nature. The piece focuses on an intimidating mushroom figure surrounded by a group of glowing slugs.

“It incorporates my love of weird things and bugs and mushrooms. The piece is kind of like a cult of slugs,” Larkin said.

They’re excited to continue learning new techniques and explore their style throughout the year as they work on both their photography and AP portfolio.

Senior Maya Rooney, however, takes AP 3D Portfolio. Although she’s loved creating art her whole life, her interest in 3D art first began by a recommendation. 

“I was divided on what arts to take and then someone told me Ms. Harrold was the best. So now I only take Ms. Harrold’s classes,” Rooney said.

Initially taking jewelry classes, her interest shifted towards sculpture. Throughout a multitude of art classes, Rooney has sculpted anything from shoes, pillows, brains, and faces. 

For her portfolio, she’s focusing on the effect of drugs on the brain.

“I’m working on an abstracted version of the blood brain barrier which is the actual membranes in your brain and how the drugs affect it,” Rooney described.

Beforehand, she worked on a face sculpture that was split in different colors to show how people see things differently under the effect of drugs. “I thought that one was interesting because it shows a point of view you don’t really see much,” Rooney explained.

Throughout her time in art, she hopes to learn about new techniques. For her face sculpture, she explored using a new type of paint to finish the piece. “That was my first time trying watercolor painting on a piece and I never thought of doing that before,” Rooney said.

Along with exploring herself as an artist, her favorite part about art class has been Ms. Harrold. 

“She’s very supportive and knows what I can do. She’s very helpful but she also pushes me to try new things,” Rooney shared.

The biggest thing she’s learned from Ms. Harrold is to not doubt her abilities. She’ll continue to push herself through her portfolio as she explores the effects of drugs on the brain in depth throughout her last year.

For senior Jenivy Par, she hopes her art brings awareness.

Two years ago, a military coup burned down her village in Myanmar – a country bordering China, Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, and India – which forced her to find refuge in the United States. In the process, she lost four of her friends and her teacher along the way. 

Art is a way of healing for Par after leaving her country. 

“It’s helped me to express my feelings and it’s improved my mental health too… It’s really important to do art because you can do something you can’t tell in words,” Par shared.

In her first year in Chagrin, she found a passion in drawing. Although no art classes were offered in her old school, her interest in art blossomed in Chagrin as she found a community within the art room.

“The people in art class are really nice and Mrs. Eisert is really nice too. I think she can tell that we need motivation sometimes so she just comes to ask if we need help and I think she’s a great teacher for us,” Par explained.

Her art focuses heavily on nature as she uses mainly oil painting sticks to create environmental scenes where emotions are at the forefront. Sprouting flowers or winding trees represent different struggles and the connection with one’s self. Her favorite piece has a soft yellow background with a girl forming into a tree as pink flowers bloom around a face rendered with sadness.

In just her second year of art, Par is already working on her AP 2D Design Portfolio. She hopes to bring attention to the state of her country and her culture. Her current piece shows her wearing a traditional dress from Myanmar called a lai thil where she poses as the Lady Justice; a blindfolded Roman statue who represents justice given fairly to all. 

“I don’t really tell anyone about myself,” Par said. “So I wanted to do that and tell them in my art.”