ArtsApr 30, 2020

Creative Passions

One Thursday morning in a cozy studio in nearby West Stockbridge, Jingtong ’20 uses a hammer and metal block to flatten and shape a piece of wire into a hoop about the size of a quarter.

With two pairs of needle-nose pliers, she deftly binds the wire’s ends, then, with a file, removes any rough edges. In a matter of minutes, she has created an earring.

It’s all part of a routine Thursday for Jingtong, a four-year senior who has married passions for art and jewelry-making with her Horizons internship, while also pursuing an artistic vision that continues evolving in innovative ways. Her work this year alone has included creating wearable ceramic jewelry and exploring movement via performance art and photography. Her piece “Future Marine Animal,” which developed from intricate drawings blending science and science fiction, received a Gold Key in the 2020 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

“I don’t like being confined to one subject or style,” says Jingtong, who has studied dance and painting since kindergarten. “To me, art is a way to think, and it is a language, and, no matter what the medium, it is a way to communicate. A lot of artists like to advocate through their artwork, but I’m not really an advocacy person. I am more of an observer. I like to look at things and see things from a new point of view and bring a different angle to something.”

Jingtong credits the MHS Art Department with giving her the freedom and support to pursue her creative interests. “The program has really helped me break limits and think more about what I want to convey through my artwork,” she says. “My teachers have encouraged me to try everything, and I feel like I can really think about projects and bigger ideas and commit to my artwork.”

Ceramics Teacher Gary Grosenbeck notes that Jingtong is both deliberate in her work and continuously pushing into new areas. “She is always thinking about her art and how to best get there,” says Mr. Grosenbeck. “She’s in the ceramics studio, she’s in the painting and drawing studio, she’s in the photo studio, and she immerses herself in the process.”

With an eye toward becoming a jeweler, Jingtong enrolled two summers ago in a jewelry design program at the Rhode Island School of Design. This year, she is interning with jewelry-maker Stephanie Iverson and learning the ins and outs of the creative and business sides of the work while testing her skills.

“Stephanie has lots of materials that inspire and encourage me to combine materials and try new designs,” says Jingtong. “She’s also easygoing, and I can talk to her when I have an idea, and she encourages me to try them.” Similar support from MHS faculty, Jingtong adds, has inspired her to take creative risks. “All four years, I have been able to use any material or ask for anything, and my teachers prepare me and help me and give me lots of information about trying new things,” she explains. “The best aspect of Miss Hall’s is that I can be myself. I can do anything I’m passionate about, and there is always someone to support me.”