Student creativity was on full display at Arcadia High School’s annual Agora Arts Festival, which was held in April for the first time in two years.
This treasured fine art exhibition featured student work from all five schools in the Arcadia complex, including Arcadia High, Echo Canyon, Hopi, Ingleside and Tavan.
The free event was open to the Arcadia community and allowed students to show off their artistic achievements and strengths. The 2022 event had a wide variety of eye-catching art, live acts, music and food to keep students engaged and guests entertained throughout the evening.
Arcadia Dance, String Orchestra and Drumline performed, along with the Creative Musical Arts & Sciences program. At the same time, activities like henna tattoos, face painting, bedazzling, button/jewelry making and chalk art were also popular.
Arcadia High junior Von Whipple enjoyed his first year at the festival, proudly contributing a statement piece inspired by the Dada art movement of the early 20th century.
“My piece was meant to hold an emotional significance and philosophical meaning that is vaguely implied,” Von said. “It was inspired by my deepest fear: the loss of things I love. I felt that I needed to convey a message through my art that reminds its viewers to cherish precious moments before they vanish.”
Von’s piece joined hundreds of other student works, showcasing their artistic skills across all mediums, from drawing and painting to photography and sculpture.
Named after the Ancient Greek word for “gathering place,” this year’s Agora picked up right where the tradition left off after two years of restrictions.
“I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see the art students represented at Arcadia again,” said Cira Riccio, AHS art teacher and Agora organizer. “I tried to have at least one piece by every student displayed somewhere throughout our art building.”
Riccio, who also sponsors the National Arts Honor Society, believes the wider community must see how much joy and creativity the arts bring to students when they are in school.
This celebration helped raise money for Free Arts of Arizona, a nonprofit that helps children overcome the trauma of neglect, abuse, and homelessness through art programs.
“NAHS makes various items and sells them, and all proceeds go to Free Arts,” Riccio explained. “It’s one of our ways of giving back to the community and supporting kids who may not be able to afford art camp.”
After another successful festival, student artists and their teachers have set their sights on next year’s event.
“We hope to continue this tradition for many years to come. These students work hard, and the community should recognize their efforts,” Riccio said. “I believe it’s important to display their art and have this event because it gives them a chance to show what they have worked so hard on throughout the year. It’s their night to shine.”