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Southwest Orange Wednesday, May 5, 2021 1 year ago

Olympia student work selected for Dalí Student Surrealist Art Exhibit

Three students from Olympia High School had their artwork selected for this year’s 2021 Dalí Student Surrealist Art Exhibit at the Salvador Dalí Museum.
by: Troy Herring Former Sports Editor

In the world of renowned surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, the imagination and subconscious of a person were places worth exploring in the name of art.

On the topic of surrealism, Dalí once said it is “destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” If that’s the case, then recent work by Olympia High School students Sophia Adams, Natalia Manna and Levi Franke put that notion into action with works of surrealist expression that has each of them sharing space with the famous Dalí.

“Box of Things” by Levi Franke.

The high-schoolers recently had work chosen to be shown during this year’s 2021 Dalí Student Surrealist Art Exhibit at the Salvador Dalí Museum in Saint Petersburg, which runs from May 8 to Aug. 23. The theme for this year’s juried art show is “Delusions, Desires and Delicacies,” which, according to The Dalí’s website, “encourages students to create dream-like visions and look to their dreams for inspiration.” 

“I was so surprised when I got the email, because I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen,” Adams, a junior, said. “My art teacher, she was like, ‘You have to submit something,’ and I had submitted something last year and didn’t get selected. I didn’t give up on it, but testing is coming up, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to worry too much about it; if I get something done, I’ll submit it.’

“When she told me I had gotten picked, I was blown away,” she said. 

Adams’ work — titled “Amblyopia,” done in acrylic paint — features a close-up portrait of a face painted in a gradient of pinks and reds, while black and yellow butterflies cover the eyes of the mystery person.

The subject in the piece was purposefully left with no identity, and the androgynous persona was done to add to the anonymity — it could be anyone, she said. She settled on butterflies over the eyes, which helped build on the message she was trying to get across with her painting.

“Fish Kicks” by Natalia Manna.

“It was inspired by selfishness — in a way — because people today are very wrapped up in themselves and blind to the world around them, so my piece … represents that blindness,” Adams said. “Covering the eyes, I considered doing maybe fabric or even tape maybe … but I settled on the butterflies, because I thought that they could show that it’s possible to see through the blindness in a way — they could just move their head, and the butterflies would just leave.”

Like Adams’ piece, Franke’s clay sculpture “Box of Things” and Manna’s painting “Fish Kicks” both explored a specific idea taken from the real world through the surrealism lens.

For Manna, her acrylic painting was inspired by a photo of shoes she had found. She loved the blue in the sky and had been wanting to do something with both a cool and warm color palette.

After days of collecting her thoughts and sketching out her ideas, she got to work on her painting. After about three weeks of work, Manna had her finished product.

Placed upon a sky-blue backdrop, three orange-and-white koi fish encircle the lower legs of a person wearing pair of white Nikes. 

“Amblyopia” by Sophia Adams.

“It’s about the angelical notion of dreams, and in a way the shoes represent freedom and the fish — as I see it — they represent pressure that society kind of puts on you, and so the shoes are trying to break through in a way,” said Manna, a sophomore. 

Like Adams, Manna was shocked to find out her piece had been selected, despite the fact that both have been creating art for as long as they can remember. Both Adams’ and Manna’s fathers create art, so it makes sense they’d follow suit.

 While the show will be turned into a virtual exhibit that interested viewers can check out online, the students selected — and their families — will be going to check out the exhibit in person for an exclusive showing.

“Me and my mom and my sister are all going to go there, and we’re really excited about it, too,” Manna said. “It’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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Troy Herring was the sports editor at the West Orange Times and Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and

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