BVNW students attend Portfolio Day conference

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BVNW students attend Portfolio Day conference

Avery Mojica, Puzzle Editor

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With 25 different art colleges and over 1,000 students in attendance, the 2015 National Portfolio Day conference Saturday at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) provided prospective youth artists with insight into what an art college can do to help hone their skills.

A total of 15 students from BVNW traveled independently to attend the fair. With a wide variety of interests including drawing, painting and graphic design, each student was able to conference with representatives from art colleges and universities from around the nation.

BVNW offers a class, Portfolio Seminar, in which students compile their best pieces of artwork that represent what they want to accomplish if they decide to pursue art in college. Although the one of the prerequisites is the Drawing I class, students are allowed to delve deeper into their passions which can include painting and metalsmithing.

Art teacher Chris LaValley attended the conference independently to guide her students while ensuring their happiness and success. Her role in the endeavor did not go unnoticed by the attendees.

“I’ll hang out there just to make sure if they have questions, need suggestions… or ‘they gave me a really bad critique and I need a hug,’” LaValley said.

The day began at 9 a.m. with check-in and registration followed by a one-hour tour of the campus. Afterward, a thirty-minute keynote address with general information was given by various representatives from KCAI. The rest of the day was dedicated to the conferences.

Each school had between one and four representatives that critiqued each student’s presented work while offering information on how to improve their art skills and/or reach the standard eligibility requirements for the student’s desired program.


Justin Lehtinen

Junior Olivia Haston attended the conference due to her general love of art. She is currently enrolled in both BVNW classes and KCAI classes and wants to pursue a degree in art education. She said that the meetings she had with the representatives were both constructive and insightful.

“For me, it was more of ‘how can I get my portfolio stronger?’,” Haston said. “I wanted it to be ‘how can I make it so I can get into art school and what can I do for scholarships?’”

With prominent art colleges like the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in attendance, each representative not only had to make their respective college appear suitable for prospective students, but also to distinguish themselves from the other venues. Haston met with reps from both SAIC and KCAI but preferred KCAI due to locality and quality of programs.

“[KCAI] has really strong departments in ceramics and painting and other things that I’m interested in,” Haston said. “It’s my interest and it’s what I want to pursue in life.”

Justin Lehtinen

Justin Lehtinen

For artists such as senior Payton Pierce, the conference was helpful in finding out about suitable art colleges, but the critique sessions were the most valuable aspect.

Pierce intends to pursue some sort of art degree with metalsmithing and jewelry-making, but her portfolio contained works from multiple media. By finishing graduation requirements in her first three years of high school, she wanted to be able to focus on art classes during senior year. However, the result has been a limited amount of time to devote to perfecting her portfolio for submission. Regardless, she said it gives her some advantages rather than solely disadvantages.

“Other people (at the convention) had a lot more stuff in their portfolios,” Pierce said. “I feel like I spent more time on each individual piece.”

Out of the 15 who attended the conference, only 12 of them are actually enrolled in the actual portfolio class. Senior Hannah Adams is not enrolled in Portfolio Seminar due to the fourth hour block conflicting with Dawg House involvement. Though the class is not required to attend the conference, a substantial portfolio created on the student’s own time is necessary for proper evaluation. Adams’ final portfolio included pieces using sketches, photography and graphic design.

When presenting the portfolio to the representative, it is one-on-one with the student explaining their work and inspirations to the representative. The representative will then offer advice and criticism on each piece followed by a brief discussion of what the student intends to do with art in their future. However, students such as Haston and Adams had varying perspectives on how ready they feel for college.

Justin Lehtinen

Justin Lehtinen

“[The conference] was really the first time I was in charge of my future,” Adams said. “When I go off to college, I’m not going to be able to ask my mom to do my laundry or bake cookies whenever I want.”

Haston, on the other hand, said she felt very ready to continue pursuing her passion at a collegiate level but without the added stressors of standard core classes.

“I just love, love, love art,” Haston said. “I really can’t see myself at a university.”

Despite their feelings on college readiness, both Haston and Adams want to pursue a career in art education and plan to use LaValley as a role model for creating a positive work environment for their students.

“Mrs. LaValley has inspired me so much to be an art teacher,” Haston said. “I want to teach people my passion just like she does.”