Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson’s student-run newspaper
Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Visual artists ‘get their roses’ at FAB

Plus, see photos from the event
Natalia Rincon ‘27 paints a mural on New House during FAB. FAB is a celebration of students in the arts at Branson.

The Festival of Arts at Branson is an annual celebration students look forward to every year. It’s the day there are no tests, no homework, no classes and the whole day is dedicated to celebrating the arts.

Every art class has something to celebrate. While the performing arts receive standing ovations, the visual arts have their own display set up on campus for the community to enjoy. 

The three visual arts teachers each had a different definition of FAB. 

“FAB is a day to come together in creative, collaborative, community,” said Noelle Anderson, a visual art teacher.

Eric Oldmixon, the arts department chair, opened with calling it “the best day of the year.” He added that FAB is a chance to celebrate how well-rounded Branson students are as great artists as well as athletes and academics. Allyson Seal described FAB as “an opportunity for the school to show up for itself [since] so much of it is rooted in community.” 

Visual arts students don’t make pieces for and around FAB like those in the performing arts. Acting, dance and music students return from winter break and immediately begin thinking about what they will showcase at FAB. On the other hand, visual arts students choose from all the pieces they have worked on that year to create a final display.

There are still deadline anxieties around FAB for all, though. Oldmixon described FAB as a “cure for senioritis.” In the weeks before FAB, students start coming in early and staying late to put the finishing touches on their projects and finalize displays. 

Seal believes that a deadline like FAB “can be very generative.” Seal didn’t teach any seniors this year but saw the deadline energy kick in. 

“We certainly saw that with the portfolio students who just hit their stride with an idea and then it’s like, well, FAB’s coming. Do you want to make this idea happen and are you willing to put in the energy it’s going to take to bring it to life?”

Advanced Visual Arts student Audrey Knowles ‘24 shared her experience preparing for FAB, saying that “the piece I displayed this year was probably my favorite piece I’ve ever done at Branson,” she said. “It took a really long time. I was in there after school a lot of days, but I was really proud of how it came together.”

The end result was excellent. New House displayed 200 works of art in all different mediums for both days of celebration. 

The variety of art elevated the exhibit, Seal said. “What gives it the aliveness is the whole collection,” she remarked, “getting to see everyone’s work in conversation with one another.” 

In addition to viewing the display, the Branson community had the chance to contribute to a collective work of art. 

“We always have some collaborative project that is engineered by a visual artist,” said Anderson. “So, this year, Maya De Santiago [‘25] had a beautiful sketch of a book opening up and erupting from it in this creative bubble of knowledge are these butterflies that are cut out of books and magazines.” 

All throughout the event, people could swing by the art quad and decorate a butterfly. The final product will live in the Branson library.

It’s important to make sure that visual artists “get their roses,” as Anderson said. They don’t get applause like performing artists and rarely get feedback. 

Some friends took photos and congratulated artists, but the true feedback comes in the last two and a half weeks of classes. Julia St. John ‘24, an artist in Portfolio Review, shared a cute gesture the senior artists received from first-year students. “The freshman class wrote us all in Portfolio letters, which I thought was really sweet,” St. John said. “Our teacher, Noelle, is also their teacher and she heard them talking a lot about our pieces in their small groups in class. She suggested that they write letters to us so everyone in our class got at least one letter from a freshman.”

For seniors, FAB during their first year at Branson looked way different due to the pandemic. Everything was digitized, with photos and videos instead of in-person exhibits. Another artist in Portfolio, Katie Sugar ‘24, said that the contrast in experience made the letters from first-years even more meaningful. 

“I don’t think I really thought about the Portfolio class and their art. It was cool to see the impact that our work has on freshmen,” said Sugar. “The letters were really well written and talked about technical skills, and it was cool to see that they actually cared about the process of making the art, too.”

In the final days of classes, the visual artists used the last of their time together to celebrate, compliment, critique and clean up. They reflected on the year past and readied the art studio for the next year of visual arts at Branson.

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