Meaning: In and Beyond Form

A Tribute to the Graded Senior IB Art Students and their Teacher


Credits: Debora Chang

The blue and red printed wallpaper in the elevator, the provocative exploration of intimate anatomical parts of the female form, and loud, colorful splashes of grafitti art cover the walls of this memorable art exhibition. Tuesday night, Graded’s IB Senior Art students shared the culmination of their hard work over the last two years.  This climatic event left an indelible impression.  For all the days it was hard to get out of bed, for the repetition, for the tedium of work, these students showed why we bother to put in effort.  The whole school benefited from your achievement and sense of satisfaction. Thank you.

The IB art exhibition searches for meaning in and beyond forms.  Whether the work is an expressive incitement to force us outside the bubble of our cultural conditioning, or an exploration of the liminal spaces in between, these young artists are teaching their audience how to think, imagine, and see anew as artists have done from time immemorial.  The themes and art forms range widely, expanding our sense of what being human is and could be.  There are fabric, painted, and clay hearts beating blood into different symbolic representations of the pumplike organ.  How fragile and indomitable we can be!  There are reinterpretations of old stories for modern times, envisioning how aligning the nature of creation itself with the mysterious origins of the cosmos makes sense.  This garden of live philodendrons, a holographic representation of all sentience and an unwavering hold onto an utopian dream in spite of the imminent fall.  There are echoes and refractions of the multiplicity of identity, attempts to deconstruct our lives into windows of observations and in here we find the “little particularities” that make up our day.  The micro and the macro worlds are superimposed.

Struggle and conflict cannot be avoided.  Berkin bags will forever be marred with the cost of lives.  A different kind of slavery where the poor are sacrificed to the luxurious indulgences of the rich, and the rich make themselves victims to those very same extravagances.  Why has the Virgin Mary been gilded?  Is nothing sacred in our pomegranate contemplation on necessity?

Where do we humans belong amongst the myriad and fluid accumulation of historical motifs that pile up one generation to the next? Our gaze, so limited by norms, can still be used to challenge concepts of gender and the de/generative emotion of love.

We saw the power of reimagining, redefining, reclaiming aspects of our humanity that have been reduced to statistical reviews.  The work boldly leads us into uncertainty, into “the mind palace” of our interiority, a landscape so unfamiliar to us we have almost been convinced that our lives can be measured in coffee spoons.  Instead, by obliterating the self, we actually can merge into the universe, into eternity in Kusama’s Infinity Room, or an enclosure in the arts center.  So immersed into artful serenity, our constructed selves melt away like a Dali painting.  Transcendence seems possible amongst these art works.  Clutter and order coexist in the letting go. We can see the ways we think we need our escape cabinets.  High fashion and a tampon dress—art is a deflected imitation of broken glass.  It may be okay to be lost in our ink and mirrors or realities of burnt match lungs.  Can you see?  Can you see?

This exhibit is about training the eye to see: needless demeaning projections of national identity; the tension between the indigenous, the traditional and the modern.  What can replace the restorative beauty of waves smashing against the shore?  Can we be in the face of our own mortality–can we be?  This really is not a question of living or dying, it is more a question of how we will carry on.

Tuesday night was a glistening moment in time, when young people represented the depth of their intelligence, their humanity and themselves with authentic poise.  They deserve to be proud of their accomplishments.  And, on top of that, they remembered to thank those who had helped them to reach these great heights, the maintenance and tech crew, the staff of Graded, as well as the one who led them to this destination, their teacher, Ms. York.  Steeped in this gratitude, we are able to see how the images ironically reveal the truth behind appearances.  The  students’ artwork reminds us of what is possible when we integrate the disciplines of reason into a limitless expression.  This is who we are.  This is who we can be in spite of the weight of doubt.  Thank you, because when you liberate yourself, you liberate us all.

Bold represents words or images from the exhibition.