Respect will grow in an educational environment between proud teachers and their students.

Jessica Danby, who has taught talented art classes in high school for the past nine years, said, “I want to challenge gifted thinkers by developing creative problem-solving while they make award-winning art that leads to proficiency in conversations with and about art.”

Danby is so proud of the students’ efforts in four years of the demanding curriculum that she feels it’s important to grant them a professional show.

“My first senior show was in 2008. The late Blake Kenworthey was in it. Sometimes when I am in front of his mural in Olde Towne Slidell, I find myself crying.”

The most recent Fontainebleau High School senior exhibit is held in the gallery of the St. Tammany Art Association, where Danby’s art students displayed their senior series. Seven students covered several expressions from video editing to pottery, sculpture and paintings to a stained-glass lamp.

Quite the dynamic, colorful expression was offered by Madeline George, who created coordinated artworks titled “The Hunted” and “The Hunter.” These were inspired by African and Mexican folk art combined with her interest in Aztec patterns.

“I don’t make art because I want to; I make it because I feel compelled to,” she said.

Kyle Stephens combines visual art with music in his project. Excellent portraits of musical artists in black and white on yellow backgrounds invite an interactive experience for lovers of the music. Below each painting hangs headphones attached to an iPod Shuffle. Crowds gathered to listen to the music and admire the art as they tapped their feet and waved their hands. Bob Marley was strategically placed on the left while Dead Kennedys’ lead singer, Jello Biafra, hung on the right to symbolize Stephens’ calm and emotional sides.

One of the most striking sculptures in the exhibit was “The Seer” by Madeline Jarman. The matte white pottery bust is topped with chrysanthemums and etched beautifully with the design of the third-eye chakra. Jarman also offered a series of watercolor paintings based on the seven chakras, which reflect her fascination with symbolism and associated energy colors.

“I appreciate my teachers for helping me realize my strengths and weaknesses,” she said.

“Utopia” by Matt Salvetti presents bold primary colors in futuristic scenery inspired by the potential of concept art for video games. He explains, “Ever since I was young, I have idolized the video game because of the creative possibilities. This differs from movies and books by the chance to interact with the world that surrounds us. Thus, it is a far more advanced and immersive form of storytelling.”

Conversely, Justin Faxon claims that his video work is not symbolic but rather an expression of himself, much like the philosophy of artist Ai Weiwei. His endeavor is titled “Space” and was a story edited using Avid. In the story, two space travelers are affected by a leader at the control center playing video games, a microwave oven and a break to work on a painting. The product amuses with awkward banter between the girl and guy space travelers. In conclusion, Faxon dons sunglasses and declares the project a total success for America. The short video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty7sEtWXJ5g.

Abigail Coleman has been in talented art since second grade. Her first inspiration was the aroma of a box of crayons, which caused her, at the age of 2, to say, “I love the smell of art.” Her finest contribution to the exhibit was a stained-glass lamp modeled after a jellyfish. Although most beachgoers fear the jellyfish, Coleman finds them to be the perfect representation of the line between weird and normal: “I love the way they reflect light and color. I used stained glass to resemble that effect.”

Claire Meyers created and named a beautiful sculpture “Claire.” She has been in talented art since junior high. For her senior enterprise, Claire used abstract art to express her feelings and assigned colors to happiness and sadness. She then worked to create paintings that reflected those emotions. She did a live painting this year for the Children’s Museum fundraiser, and her teacher describes that piece as “awesome.” Meyers will attend LSU in the fall to major in interior design.

The work of these senior artists stands tall, even next to that of experienced artists, as symbols of the unlimited spaces creative minds can fill and the unlimited goals that each student can reach.

Kathleen DesHotel writes about the cultural arts in St. Tammany. To reach her, email kathleenfocused@gmail.com.