Schmitt is Central’s Feature Artist of the Month

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Feature Artist of the Month, Kahlei Schmitt, stands in front of some of her artwork on display at Central School. She was chosen for her dedication to the craft and ability to use art as an expressive medium.

Kahlei Schmitt’s favorite piece represents her family’s two Labrador dogs, Klaus and Hank.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

“It was shocking to my family and me.” That’s how Central sophomore Kahlei Schmitt described being named the school’s Feature Artist of the Month for November. 

The stress relieving hobby has turned into “an amazing opportunity” to share with the community her art, her thoughts and, most of all, her feelings. “I put most of my feelings into my art pieces, and it’s where most of my ideas come from,” she said. 

Those feelings tend to range the spectrum, but happiness and sadness, above all, drive her expressive nature, “drive her ideas to the max,” and push her creativity to the next level. 

“Hard or not, I always find a way to express myself or my feelings in my art pieces,” Kahlei said. 

It’s also about being able to escape, cope with unsaid feelings or mitigate the tumultuous threats of stress and being overwhelmed. Given the current state of national affairs, having a coping mechanism and outlet is vitally necessary. So, when Kahlei has these feelings, she “just whips out [her] sketch book and [goes] at it.” 

The expression part has fostered an interest in art, as has being in art class with Ms. Cathy Recker, the art teacher, who, according to Kahlei, always pushes her to do her absolute best. The hobby follows her home as well, and the creativity is most often put into sketch books, Kahlei’s preferred method of art. 

“Sketching is more interesting to me because it’s a way I can express myself the easiest,” she said. 

But what goes into being Feature Artist of the Month? For that, we must turn to Recker, who makes the selection. 

“I choose the feature artist each month myself,” Recker said. “The feature artist is selected based on stand out qualities and the art they have produced. I’ve chosen students that consistently produce outstanding art and give 100 percent on every assignment. I’ve also chosen students because they have demonstrated dramatic improvements in a short amount of time. Enthusiasm for learning about the visual arts and dedication to quality are definitely important.” 

So, hobby, passion or something else, Kahlei’s work demonstrates those qualities, as does her enthusiasm for art itself. That enthusiasm is driven by the fact that, in her words, a world without art “would be bland…boring and upsetting because people wouldn’t be able to express themselves like I do.”  

In her current portfolio and one of the works hanging on the walls of the school, is a remarkably meaningful piece, the pet portrait. Created entirely out of fingerprints, the portrait was made from a picture of two Labradors, Klaus and Hank, who the Schmitt family had to get rid of. 

The scale of the project and the method were both challenges to the small-scale sketchbook art Kahlei is most comfortable with, but it “was an opportunity to push my art to the next level,” she said. 

It was also a piece she felt needed to be done, as a sort of memory preservation device and as a way to express those feelings of loss and absence, to convey the depth of emotions from missing them. It has since become her favorite piece.  

“I’m obsessed with how it turned out…I never expected my art piece to look as magnificent as it did. I’m very proud of myself for being able to work on a big scale art piece,” she said. 

While art is not on Kahlei’s list of future ambitions, it will always hold a place on her life. It’s a form of escapism which everyone so desperately needs—to show the world who you are in a safe way and in a safe space, to say “this is me and I am who I am.”

“Art is not meant to be looked at only for what it is. It is meant to stimulate thought because it allows viewers to draw their own emotions and pull from their personal experiences when viewed. It is very powerful in this way and it naturally develops critical and innovative thinking skills. Art teaches many important qualities such as listening, observing and responding to multiple perspectives,” Kahlei said.

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