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Hillel students wow audience with artwork

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMRichard Mitchell
Joelle Dunkley (left) points out one for her artwork to her mother Dr Erica Fong-Dunkley.
Brianna Younis explains her choice of colours in her batik piece to her teacher.

It is not usual to see a class presenting their schoolwork in the form of an art exhibition in such an elaborate manner, but the seven grade 13 students at the Hillel Academy broke that mould on Monday at the school's campus in St Andrew.

As part of their international baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme, Matthew Bennett, Joelle Dunkley, Arjermaine Espinosa, Daniella Reeves, Courtney Taylor, Brianna Younis and Dennis Ziadie, all wowed guests as they presented multiple artworks which included paintings, portraits and sculptures.

Head of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Hillel, Jennifer Tickle explained the exhibition to The Gleaner:

"The students spent 18 months learning art techniques and learning styles. We exposed them to a lot of local artwork, and also asked them to pull on their own cultural heritages and identities, after which they were allowed to produce whatever they wish. So what you see here is just that."

Alfredo Bennett, principal of the high school, noted that while focusing on the traditional subjects like mathematics and physics are important, emphasis should also be placed on arts in creating a "well-rounded" student.

"The fact is that there are a lot of kids that want to do the arts. So we, as a school, feel we shouldn't just focus on the math and the physics; we should also focus on other aspects that create a well-rounded international human being," Bennett said.

Daniella Reeves, like many of the other students at the exhibition, produced artworks which focused on the theme of inequality and injustice. More specifically, Daniella examined the struggles of women in different cultures and societies.

"My pieces are mostly about women and the struggles they have to go through in different societies," Daniella said as she stood by her exhibition.


depictions of women


"I painted the Jamaican girl and the African woman facing in one direction, because I think these women are moving forward as a society; while this painting of this Muslim woman asks the question if that culture is moving in the right direction," she added.

One of the more controversial pieces in the exhibition came from Arjermaine Espinosa, who created an artwork with profanity splashed across barely readable newspaper articles. Used to defending this work by now, he quickly explained the importance of showcasing that work specifically because of its message of injustice that currently exists across the globe.

"This, like all my pieces, is based on my beliefs and how they relate to social injustice in today's world. I did this controversial piece so that people can think. I want people to be shocked at first so they can stop and look into it more," Arjermaine explained.

He continued: "Everyone speaks about equality, but how many of us actually fight for it?"