Dana Hills art students capture inspiration for Festival of Whales project

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The featured image: Dana Hills High High Jack Martin focuses on a whale spotted on the port side during the school’s whale-watching excursion on Thursday morning, January 20. Photo: C. Jayden Smith

By C. Jayden Smith

On Thursday morning, January 20, the last group of art students from Dana Hills High boarded the dana pride and set sail from the port, hoping to see whales and find inspiration.

The students, drawn from art courses such as photography, drawing and painting, have taken the first major step before submitting their individual works for the upcoming Dana Hills High School Young Artists Exhibition and Sale that the Whale Festival will host in March.

Natalie Hribar-Kelly, professor of digital photography and chair of the visual and performing arts department, has been part of the annual event and the field for more than 10 years, but said this year’s activity stood out. others.

In previous years, she has enjoyed seeing the students come out and the Dana Point community include them in the festival tradition.

“This year, I think it’s different because the kids have been under so much stress for the past two years,” she said. “We had such weird instructions with mask-wearing, e-learning and hyper-learning last year that I think it’s just exciting to have some normalcy.”

The tour offers a new experience for the majority of teenagers who have never been on a boat or seen a whale.

Throughout her years of leading students through the art exhibition process, Kelly said watching students get excited and let their guard down is always satisfying, especially during field trips that allow them to be creative outside of the school campus.

“I like this component where it’s like, ‘Hey, you have an hour and a half to two hours to shoot and you have a really fantastic subject to shoot, so just do it,'” he said. she declared. “I think they’re getting better (with) the cameras, because they have that time to ask me questions.”

Mattea Chung, a student in Kelly’s photography class, enjoyed being on the dana pride and the ability to take photos from numerous locations on the ship.

“I was excited because I was like, ‘Ooh, there might be whales,'” Chung said upon hearing about the tour. “I wasn’t sure, because I knew the water would be calm. But (the trip) inspired me because it’s a fun experience, so I can learn more about photography and the ocean.

She was able to use her photo-taking strengths to her advantage, as she described being more comfortable focusing on one subject at a time.

Another student who used all areas of the boat to try and photograph sea life was Jake Bachrach, a freshman who was well used to being on the water.

Due to the long periods between when the whales would breach, he, like other students, found the task of capturing the whales difficult.

“Maybe I could get whatever prize the professor promised to give us (for) whoever got the best picture,” Bachrach said of his goal of taking lots of pictures of the whales. “That would be a great achievement.”

Donna Kalez, chief operating officer of Dana Wharf Sport Fishing & Whale Watching, which donates the annual boat trip to the school, said it was always important to organize the visit and get the discussions started of the festival.

“It’s just something we’ve always done, bringing them out to get them excited for the Whale Festival and trying to get the community ready,” Kalez said.

The hope is that all of the students have been inspired by the tour in some way, as they officially begin their preparations for the show.

The art exhibit and sale is scheduled for March 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Harbor Walkway. Visit festivalofwhales.com for more information.

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothers his black lab named Shadow.

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