A Stroke of Brilliance: Student Artists Find Their Voices


Graphic of Amelia Coleman and Lili Xiong

Beatriz Marteleto-Lara, Staffer

LASA is known for outstanding academic performance, but according to sophomore dancer Mackenzie Waldinger, the school community promotes artistic talent as well. With a wide range of artists across many different forms of media and expression, LASA is home to many young artists.

Art has a unique way of eliciting strong emotions and self expression according to junior Aurna Mukherjee. She uses her art form, singing, as a creative outlet to express herself. 

“I’ve been singing for my entire life,” Mukherjee said. “It’s what allows me to express my thoughts and process different emotions.”

Art is not confined to one form or traditional quality standard, so artists are able to convey their emotions in new and innovative ways, according to senior Emma Chu. Chu believes that art is a way of crafting a message through various mediums. Art is always evolving and according to Waldinger her art form, dance, is too. 

“Dance is a great example of a constantly growing art form,” Waldinger said. “There are new and upcoming genres frequently, and the different types of dance that already exist are always evolving.”

Many LASA artists are recognized for their talent and hard work. This year, senior Zachary Suri was awarded the Austin Youth Poet Laureate, the highest city-level poetry award a high schooler can get. 

“If you have strong emotions, or you’re feeling or particular feelings…that often seem intangible or hard to grasp, or hard to do anything with,” Suri said, “Poetry is a way to do something with those feelings and to turn them…into something that another person could read and understand the way that it encapsulates those emotions.”

 According to Chu, while personal emotions can inspire someone to create a work of art, many artists are inspired by their surroundings. Chu says their digital surroundings inspire them most in their paintings.

 “I’m inspired a lot by artists I find online honestly,” Chu said. “I think there’s genuine value in being inspired by shows you watch or artists that you follow online right now because they’re always making stuff that’s innovative.” 

Along with inspirations, a productive environment that encourages creativity and artistic freedom helps artists, such as Waldinger, be able to express themselves. While LASA tends to be more focused on STEM-based studies, Waldinger believes it is also a productive and healthy environment for her as a dancer.

 “I think [LASA] is a great environment for pursuing the arts,” Waldinger said. “LASA gives people many opportunities, not only to do extracurricular activities but even in the STEM classes, to focus on art and be creative.”

In her singing, Mukherjee tries to emulate the styles of singers she looks up to. She loves to try new techniques– like blending singing styles and genres of music.

“Carrie Underwood [is one of my role models],” Muckerjee said. “I think it’s impressive how she merges different styles; country, pop, rock, which is something I look to do when I sing.” 

Music can also inspire other forms of art, and inspiration can be found in a variety of places, according to Suri. He believes that many forms of art bleed into each other, especially when it comes to what inspires people to create works of art.

  “I would say it’s also music for me as well, particularly lyrics often make their way into my poetry,” Suri said. “The beauty of poetry is that you can draw from all sorts of source material. It doesn’t have to be traditionally considered poetry.” 

According to Chu, classical arts can be seen as outdated or irrelevant to the modern artistic scene. She believes that the most interesting art is what is happening in present day. 

“If you say classical art as in technical arts, I don’t think anyone now will get or relate to oil paintings from a few 100 years ago,” Chu said. “That [art] has been dead for a while.” 

Visual arts is not the only art form that has evolved since its classical days. Poetry has also changed since its birth 5,000 years ago, according to Deutsche Welle. 

“[Poetry] is often taught in a very restrictive way,” Suri said. “Only from the perspective of dead white guys from hundreds of years ago, and we don’t really see poetry as something that’s meaningful to us as 21st century Americans.”

While the evolution of art is exciting and looking forward is important, Suri said it is essential to remember the roots of art and where it all came from. Past art can be obsolete, but many of the issues discussed in old-fashioned art are still present today, according to Suri.

“But at the same time,” Suri said, “I do think there’s still value in going back and looking at those dead white guys and their poetry and looking at the poetry of the past.”

Artists at LASA are constantly expressing themselves in new and innovative ways. While LASA is a nurturing place for many young artists, artists, such as Mukherjee, would appreciate more support and recognition from the community. 

“I’d like to see the general community at LASA put more focus on choir and some of the less recognized fine arts at LASA,” Mukherjee said “because there’s talent in areas where people generally do not know about.”