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  • Zoe Becker

Art Honor Society Transforms Walls into a Gallery

For students walking through the Walls hallways during mid-March something felt different, and not just because winter is relenting and the third floor classrooms are beginning to feel hotter and stuffier than ever. Walls was bursting with energy and art. Prints, photos, and paintings lined the hallways as the school’s chapter of the National Art Honor Society (NAHS) prepared for its annual winter showcase.

The event, which took place on the evening of Tuesday, March 12, highlighted a wide range of Walls student artwork: some digital, some traditional, some multimedia. Several of the pieces were sold to showcase attendees as a part of a fundraising effort for the Walls Home and School Association (HSA).

And in the chaos of burgeoning AP season and daily Walls life, the NAHS showcase served as a reminder of the finer things in life. As showgoers wandered through the halls of the third floor where the exhibit took place, soft jazz music echoed through the building as artists and NAHS members, wearing multi-colored berets, guided and spoke with visitors.

The HSA provided funds so that the NAHS could serve sparkling cider in champagne flutes and offer decadent plates of fruit, cheese, and crackers to visitors. The event really was a celebration of the Walls community as much as it was of student artists.

“I feel like Walls parents don’t always have opportunities to step into the building, so seeing parents being able to enjoy the art made by their students was a nice way to bring the community together,” said Avajane Lei (‘24), who attended the event.

And then, of course, there was the art itself. Notable works included a display by TransHealthTees, a group of Walls juniors who design and sell t-shirts and put the proceeds towards supporting safe healthcare for transgender teens in DC, as well as a life-size, anatomically accurate drawing of a skeleton done by student Jason Cao (‘25).

And, some students’ short films and digital works are still being displayed following the show on monitors located on the basement and third floor level.

The showcase was a thrilling moment for some of Walls’ many student artists. “You could tell the students were very excited, many of them not having previously had the opportunity to show off their work,” said NAHS chapter president Ishan Hsu (‘24).

The display and enjoyment of all of these works would have been impossible without the NAHS team. “It’s entirely student-run,” said chapter advisor Jason Bulluck.

Hsu, Elise Rundlet (‘24), and Tess Usher (‘24) served as the primary curatorial team for the event, collaborating with other members and officers of NAHS. Together, they worked to select the works to put on display, as well as to determine where and how to display them; a significant challenge and accomplishment in a building like Walls, which was certainly not designed to be an art gallery.

Hsu also worked with NAHS co-president Petra Debelack (‘24) to plan logistics and advertise the event.

What the team brought to life was remarkable, especially considering that by the time the group had come to a final decision to make this year’s showcase happen, they had just around a week and a half to plan and execute the whole thing. “I would add some more time for the next one,” said NAHS archivist Rachel Kolko (‘24).

Despite the time crunch, come Tuesday the 12th, the third floor was packed with visitors milling through the show. Attendees gave rave reviews of the wide ranging and dynamic showcase.

“I think it was really cool that there were so many mediums showcased at the event,” Lei said, “There was film, photography, textile design, and so many other art forms that I didn’t even know Walls kids could partake in.”

With such a positive reception to its recent event, things seem to be on the up and up for the Walls NAHS, which is already beginning to tentatively plan its next show for later this year. Members are hoping to elevate the museum-like experience by beginning to include placards about art works and create a generally more structured atmosphere to the event.

Kolko further noted that the organization is interested in collaborating with Walls’ stage band or jazz bands to play at their events (rather than pre-recorded music) and create a more robust artistic environment at Walls.

Mr. Bulluck, too, has hopes for the future of the chapter. “Because it’s student run,” he said, shows only happen “if that’s a thing they prioritize.” While the showcases have often been annual, “I’m hoping it will become more of a semiannual thing,” he said.

The NAHS encourages any and all student artists to submit work for display or sale at their future events. And for students who want to get more involved, Walls students can qualify for and become members of the NAHS through excellence in any Walls art class. Membership, according to the NAHS’s website, is based on “scholarship, service, and character.”

NAHS meetings, which are open to all Walls students regardless of membership, are on Wednesdays at 3:30 in room 27.


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