Wild, Wild, West: Students’ perspectives on the West Austin Studio Tour and future art events


On May 12, 2018, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., student artists, musicians, performers, and supporters gathered throughout the halls of the Ann Richards School to commemorate the fine arts celebration that is the West Austin Studio tour. Incorporating both student work and local Austin artists, this is the second year the spring event has been hosted at ARS.

Not only were art students present at the event, but students from other fine arts participated in West for the first time.The drumline, in full marching uniform, along with some member of the color guard, welcomed people in at the front of the school . Ensemble performances from student-led trios and solo dance showcases occurred in the cafeteria, while art sales and other activities were spread throughout the school. Visitors were encouraged to spread out around the campus and experience the many different interactive elements the event had to offer, including a horror movie makeup booth run by media technology pathway students, student poetry written on the spot, and a face painting booth.

“All of the stuff here is really high quality, there’s local artists who come here and there are students who are really exceptional who make stuff, too,” Zoe Flynn (11) said.

As a student involved in band and art, Flynn participated in both the drumline performance and represented the ARS art department at West.

“I definitely felt a greater responsibility since both organizations were going to be here, so I felt like I should definitely be here,” Flynn said. “I also feel like it made the whole show more interesting to me, instead of all the art it was also some stuff that you can sit down and watch, and it was all very involved.”

Even outside of the performing arts, students attending the event noted that the participation and performances from multiple arts programs elevated the event and made it more engaging and made community involvement and outreach easier.

“I think it’s a great idea, because then you’re not just having art people,” Jurnee Jackson (12) said. “You can just tell the art kids, and that can spread out to the whole school, but the whole school still might not understand what it is or what’s happening. Having dance and marching band and other people… just brings more people who are able to come to this and more people have knowledge of it.”

Despite the positive effects of having more of the ARS fine arts community involved in the event, many of those in attendance noted the lack of foot traffic. In the past, being on the West Austin studio tour route has brought in people form outside of the immediate Ann Richards community, but this year the turnout was mostly students and their families. Some students who were coming in for Saturday school, cornerstone project work time, or AP study sessions stuck around to explore West.

“I feel like this year’s West was better planned out and organized, but sadly there’s something disconnecting with it reaching out to the people,” Jackson said.

Among some of the suggestions for how to increase traffic at WEST include encouragement for more advertisement, more promotion within the fine arts programs themselves, and more word of mouth promotion outside of the school community.

“If it were a thing for next year, they should really have it where all of the performing arts would have time during West,” Jackson added. “And that way they can put up their own posters and say “hey, come to West to support band!” or “hey, come to West and support fine arts,” and then those can go back to their parents.”

One aspect of West that’s been important to the art students and the art department in the past has been the sale of prints and sticker sheets made with original student work. While some of the profit would go back to support the art program, students were able to keep some of their sales and use the opportunity to further explore the reality of selling their own creative works.

“I think [selling prints] teaches entrepreneurship,” Jackson said. “Like little kids making lemonade stands.”

In addition to student art sales at West, the senior AP Drawing, AP 2D Design, and AP 3D Design students have had the opportunity to present a public senior art show hosted in the community room at Wheatsville Co-Op on South Lamar. The event opened the last week of April, and will end on May 25th with a celebratory closing event from 1:30 p.m.-3 p.m. All of the ARS community is invited to come visit Wheatsville to check out the exhibit as well as attend the closing.