Storytelling symbols

Art students redefine words through personal experiences


Cooper Meldrum

Sophomore Anna Hurlbert’s piece represents a moment that damaged her self image.

“Legs” made of strawberries. “Twin” made of cake.

These are examples of Advanced Drawing and Painting 2’s recent “Redefined Text” project. The purpose of the project was to take a word which is relevant to their lives and give it a new meaning.

“The idea is that you’re taking a word that has either positive or negative connotation and using personal narrative and symbolism to redefine what that word means,” said Brice McCasland, AP 2D and Drawing Studio and K-12 Visual Art Coordinator. “This exercise is really so that kids understand all content in your work doesn’t need to be universal.”

McCasland said the two elements of the art pieces, the word and its depicted material, “create mystery.”

“There’s this interesting juxtaposition of intrigue around them because you see them, and you might recognize a word immediately or you might not,” McCasland said. “But then you are also, as a viewer, trying to navigate what is the purpose of the material it’s made out of.”

This exercise is really so that kids understand all content in your work doesn’t need to be universal.”

— Brice McCasland

Sophomore Grace Flinchbaugh, who created “Twin” out of cake, used her art piece to reflect on her experience as a twin with her sister, sophomore Amelia Flinchbaugh.

“[Being a twin] was kind of a negative thing for me but not like, ‘Oh my gosh, I hate my twin sister,’” Grace said. “[Instead it was] negative like, ‘Oh, you’re the one that’s a twin.’”

Flinchbaugh chose to use cake as her material to insert a “humorous aspect” into her piece.

“Something that is always a part of being a twin is that [we] always have to share one cake for our birthday,” Grace said.

Grace’s decision to use the word “twin” was an easy one because of its prevalence in her life.

“[Being a twin] is something I realize every day,” Grace said. “It was always something that was defining.”

Although Amelia, initially did not understand why Grace decided to draw “Twin,” she eventually understood.

“I joked around and gave her a hard time about the word, but I totally agree with her reasoning behind the word,” Amelia said.

Sophomore Anna Hurlbert had a harder time choosing a word to define. She eventually settled on depicting “Legs” with strawberries because of an experience she had in middle school.

Cooper Meldrum
Sophomore Grace Flinchbaugh drew the word “twin” made out of cake as a humorous twist to part of her identity.

“Someone was trying to throw a tub of strawberry yogurt, and they missed the trash can,” Hurlbert said. “[The tub] was still full, so it got all over my legs. Someone offered to help me clean it up and brought me up to the bathroom. She commented on how my legs looked scrawny and weird.”

Hurlbert’s art piece helped her deal with this emotional experience.

“I’m not as insecure of my legs as I was beforehand,” Hurlbert said.

According to McCasland, this was an emotional experience for most of the art students.

“In critique, there were literally tears shed of people sharing these stories about why they chose the word they did and how it has impacted them in the process of taking ownership of it,” McCasland said.

Additionally, McCasland feels every student was able to find success during this “cathartic” assignment.

“There was great success in learning how to take ownership over something,” McCasland said. “Every kid out there had success in learning through that process and figuring out what actual application worked for them.”