WOHS artist accepted into Dali Museum’s Student Surrealist Art Exhibit

West Orange High senior Chanel Collison will be featured at the 2018 Student Surrealist Art Exhibit at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.

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  • | 1:04 p.m. May 9, 2018
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When Chanel Collison submitted a photo of one of her sculptures to be displayed at the Student Surrealist Art Exhibit at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, she didn’t think her piece would be accepted.

“Once (I) read the actual criteria for being in the museum, (I found out) they don’t take 3D work,” Collison said. So I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m definitely not getting in.’”

The art piece she submitted is a ceramic sculpture of a face depicting a look of disgust as red ants crawl out of the ear. The piece represents “the symbiosis between humans and nature, but in kind of an unexpected way,” Collison said.

“I want to get an actual reaction out of my work instead of (people) being like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty.’ I want it to mean something.”

— Chanel Collison

Although the museum did not take in 3D artwork, the 17-year-old West Orange High School senior still entered a photo of her piece when ceramics teacher Marco Newland invited art students to submit their work.

“I didn’t know the Dali thing was going on while I was making this (piece), so it wasn’t really inspired by Dali or anything,” Collison said. “Mr. Newland just came over and he was like, ‘The Dali Museum is having an exhibit, so send in your pieces,’ and I was actually the only one (who) did it. … I had one of my photography friends help me position it and take the actual picture because it is judged based on the photography quality.”

Collison didn’t expect her piece would get into the exhibit. When she found it was accepted, she couldn’t believe it.

“I was like, ‘There’s no way,’” Collison said. “I was really surprised. I was really happy too, because I try really hard in this class — staying after school and everything — and I think it’s just kind of like a sign that my hard work has paid off.”

The photo of Collison’s piece will be on display beginning May 19. 


Although Collison has been an artist her entire life, she only started working with ceramics last year. 

“Originally, I just really liked making faces, because of the expression and the emotion you could see,” Collison said. “I thought making faces would be a lot easier than it actually is. … The mouth is a lot harder than I thought it would be and so is the nose … because there’s so many little, tiny muscles and crevices that you don’t really notice when you look at a person.”

Collison said sculpting faces got easier with practice and said studying different emotional facial expressions helped, as well. She enjoys creating surrealist art pieces because of the emotion they can evoke.

“(My) favorite art style is definitely surrealism, and that’s cool because I’m in the Dali Museum now,” Collison said. “A lot of my pieces are definitely grotesque and surrealist. I like that when people saw this piece specifically, they were like, ‘Oh that gives me chills. That’s disgusting.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the kind of reaction you’re supposed to have.’ I want to get an actual reaction out of my work instead of (people) being like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty.’ I want it to mean something.”

With an art piece already on display at a renowned museum, Collison looks to the near future as she’s not far from graduating high school. She plans on majoring in art history and ceramics in college and plans on attending either the University of Florida or New York University.

“I don’t know where I’m going to go yet,” Collison said. “I don’t know if I want to go all the way to New York, but I just visited (NYU) … and it was amazing.”


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