By Hays Edmunds
These drawers, painters and craftsmen are bursting with creative talent—and just so happen to be students too.
Surreal + Dreamlike: Walden Knott
Over time, Walden Knott has gone through different phases of materials and methods to create “surreal and dreamlike” paintings and drawings, but recently she has been particularly fond of the unpredictability and colorful freedom of watercolors and the precise, intentional nature of pen and ink.
The MBHS senior loves the idea of taking a natural, everyday object or form and altering it to create an uncomfortable or startling image. “I might draw a body but in an unusual position or with unusual colors, or I might draw a familiar object but include some dreamlike features,” she explains. “I want (my viewers) to question the things that they see in everyday life.”
Creating art for her also looks like putting her pain on paper and aiming to help others with their own internal quarrels. With her modes of expression, she not only hopes to free her own mind, but also to inspire new ideas in those who see.
Making Meaning: Emma Fooshee
For Emma Fooshee, art requires getting mad. “Get angry at the painting, and then—WAPAPAPAPOW, you have an awesome painting,” she says.
Although her talent showed back in elementary school, the abstract realist painter, punk rock guitarist and Alabama School of Fine Art senior was not always the outspoken personality that she is today. “Junior high sucked. Nobody cares about you; you’re weird,’” she says, recalling how she grew into her now unapologetic beliefs. “Nobody’s going to remember you in 10 years. Be whoever you want to be. That’s what I sort of realized in high school.”
Since starting at ASFA her junior year, she has struggled to create drawings and paintings to please her mentors and that also cements her own style: simple, precise and personal. Now Emma has more pride than ever in her work and has begun to see a legitimate future for herself as an artist.
Currently, she creates works of art daily, practicing figurative art and abstract realism, typically in drawings or oil paintings and commissioning her work to anyone who will appreciate it. “My big thing is to make it meaningful for another person,” she says. From making portraits for sports teams to painting custom designs on Vans shoes, she just wants to see a reaction. “It’s the best feeling in the world to cause someone else joy and know that you caused that joy,” she says.
The Power of a Pen: Trenton Stewart
For Trenton Stewart LEGOs were more than just toys—they were an opportunity to get creative and a bridge into the world of art. His love of drawing as a child led him to building unique LEGO designs in middle school. Every year, he shared his innovative and intricate designs through annual LEGO conventions in Birmingham and Chicago, where he has received accolades for his LEGO guns that can fire small objects across a room.
Trenton’s perception of himself and his future turned, however, when he received an advertising booklet in the mail from the Ringling College of Art and Design during his sophomore year of high school. He was amazed at the experiences and occupations that hardworking artists could have.
Right away, he picked up drawing again. He drew on receipts at his job at a local pizza joint, woke up early to paint on his days off, and recreated cartoon characters on school whiteboards for people to enjoy. Any opportunity he got, he was drawing, striving to enhance his skills and his portfolio. After graduating MBHS this year, he is starting at Savannah College of Art and Design this fall with a merit scholarship in his field of illustration and animation.
Creature Designs: Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz turns real life ideas into fantasy pieces, yielding colorful “creature-designs.” Take for example “Pica Day.” The piece features portraits of many of his own friends as make-believe characters to match their personalities, all in a yearbook-style layout. When you see one, look for hidden details ripe with emotional expression that’s sure to entertain.
The Mountain Brook High School senior focuses on color wheel interaction and precise geometrical formations, arranging different sized circles to create a shape or image. A more free-flowing element of his art—scribbling sporadically on a piece of paper until he finds a shape that he can turn into something bigger—has also played a large part in his signature creature-designs.
You’ll also find Jeff’s artistry on posters he makes for MBHS theater productions (he’s an actor too) like last year’s Chicago and The Other Other Woman. As he continues to hone his art in school and on his own, he hopes of one day working as an artist in animation, entertainment or “anything for the people.”
Working in Wood: Rocky Kimble
Rocky Kimble believes that an artist is the most selfish person there is. “I do it for myself, and I do it because it completes me in a sort of way,” he says. “It’s just so nice that you get something beautiful after indulging.”
Originally an early 2000s-inspired digital artist, the MBHS senior now focuses his time on his spiritually motivated woodturning. He drew on any material he could as a child, filling his iPad storage with digital art and his room with bowls and wooden figures. YouTube also shaped him as creator both drawing and later woodworking.
Make no mistake, woodworking is hard work from start to finish. It requires collecting and transporting heavy pieces of fallen trees, planning the final piece, and using heavy machinery to execute the design, with inevitable cuts and bruises along the way. And it might or might not end up successful. Rocky wouldn’t have it any other way though. For him, it’s a personal duty to “give that tree a second life.”
For the Love of Color: Libby Hunt
Libby Hunt creates art to add vibrancy and color to her own life, and there’s no doubt it does for others too. Cartoon-style fruit and other objects are as signature to her work as exaggerated figures—all beginning as colorful images in her head.
Inspired by fashion, photography and the emotional signals they send, the 2020 MBHS graduate and incoming Auburn University freshman makes art for her own sanity and fulfilment. “Some of my happiest memories are from sitting down with my friends and drawing and making art,” she says. “It fills me with so much joy to be able to just sit down and create stuff.”
Whether she’s drawing, painting, sculpting, sewing or taking photos, Libby’s creations are all an extension of her vivid self. “I try to put my personality into my artwork, and I want [people] to feel that when they’re looking at it,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine my life without making art.”