Ariana Huggett is an artist whose work is renowned, spent two weeks painting the SHS pool and auditorium.
Shorewood, with its elegant 1924 architecture, was inspiring subject matter for this Riverwest-based artist. “I paint interiors and exteriors. It’s my subject matter,” Huggett said.
Hugget began her visit on October 26, spending the time painting and meeting with Shorewood art students. Also benefitting from this exchange were Shorewood’s art students.
“I think an art department with momentum draws to it great art situations and she was one of these situations,” said Jeffrey Zimpel, art department chair. Jessica Mohagen, art teacher, agrees.
“It was awesome to have her here. I brought my classes to see her and that was great to watch her work. She was really laid back and answered all the student’s questions,” Mohagen said.
Mohagen, along with Zimpel and other members of the administration, welcomed Huggett with a tour of the school as the artist evaluated different spaces for their painting potential.
“We actually went underground into the tunnels which was really cool,” Mohagen said. Huggett selects spaces based on their character and history.
“I’m always looking to paint spaces that have history, that people use and that are well put together,” Huggett said. “Take Shorewood pool for example. It’s a space that is used daily, for education, but also has a history.”
The pool scene contains elements evident in much of Huggett’s other work. The natural light, aesthetic color scheme and fine details are hallmarks of many of her paintings.
“I really like the patterns and that space was really pleasant to work in. It was warm; there was a lot of natural light, in contrast to the auditorium, which was dark and cold,” Huggett said. Painting the auditorium proved to be more difficult.
“I’ve never painted in that dark of light before, so that was challenging. There was this sort of weird red glow that I really wanted to capture,” Huggett said. “Beyond the historical detail, there were some very beautiful architectural details there, too. There is that big arch that opens out over the audience and that’s very intricate.”
Mohagen appreciates the variety in her work and how well she captured the character of these iconic Shorewood spaces.
“I really liked the variety of the lighting in her work. The auditorium was very dark and she really captured that ambience. Then she did the pool which was completely naturally lit and it’s so neat to see that much variety in one place and coming from one artist,” Mohagen said.
In addition to creating these tributes to Shorewood, Huggett also came away with an appreciation for Shorewood heritage, which is evident in her paintings. She even featured the infamous Showcase bat in her painting of the auditorium.
“I got to hear the stories that came along with the spaces I painted and I love that history,” Huggett said.
According to Huggett, if she ever gets the opportunity to return, she would love to continue to explore campus and paint the subtle features that make this school so special.
“I really love the WPA murals; those were very nice. I also loved the big mural in the band room. The beautiful tiles in the entry ways are also really intriguing,” she said. Most of all, Huggett says she appreciated the architecture around her.
“Today things are done as cheaply as they can be, and you just don’t see this level of workmanship,” Huggett said. “Buildings are built now to be disposable, just like everything else.”
By Sydney Widell