Student Artwork Featured in All-State Exhibit


Friday, March 18, 2022

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In “The Struggle”, Kelsey Poulsen says that mental illness can trap anyone.

By Linda Peterson

Intermountain Catholic

DRAPER — The artwork of two students from Juan Diego Catholic High School is on display at the Springville Museum of Art as part of the 50th Annual Utah All-State High School Show.

Pieces by Kelsey Poulsen and Janessa Young-Flores were chosen from 1,063 entries from 108 high schools across the state to be among the 335 works in the exhibit. The jury was made up of 12 professional artists and arts administrators.

Kelsey’s piece, titled “La Lutte” (The Fight), features a black and white pencil self-portrait of the artist, who appears to be trapped by barbed wire.

“I wanted to convey the feeling and struggle of having a mental health disorder and still feeling attached,” Kelsey, a Juan Diego senior, wrote in a statement that accompanies the piece. “So many people struggle with their disorder, and I wanted to create something that was relatable, and that people could connect to.”

Although she took art classes throughout her school career, before this year she had never enrolled in an advanced art class, said Kelsey, who follows AP Art.

“I decided since it was my senior year that I was just going to go,” she said.

In the classroom, she focuses on how she can represent the effects of inherited mental health issues; her family members struggle with ADHD, bipolar disorder and OCD, she said.

Previously, the only artwork she exhibited was in college for an Arbor Day competition, so “I’m really proud” that her piece was chosen for the all-state show, she said.

After graduation, she plans to continue her college education and major in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects and minor in interior design.

“Package Deal” by Janessa, who is also an elderly person, is a colored pencil, gouache and pen drawing of two halves of an open pomegranate, its seeds exposed.

Gouache is a method of painting that uses opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a glue-like substance.

Janessa said she was inspired by her parents’ pursuit of art; her father, Luis, is an artist and her mother, Alysia, is a photographer.

“I chose to draw a pomegranate to represent openness to another person while emphasizing the color spectrum that represents our personality,” Janessa said in the statement that accompanies her piece. “The way we present ourselves on an outer facade is different from the truth that comes from our inner beauty. While there may be rotten seeds representing our bad traits, there are also perfect seeds that show every single thing about us. No one shares the same personality, the same way pomegranates don’t all share the same types of seeds. »

Of her chosen piece for the show, she said, “I’m really proud of myself and feel very artistically inspired.”

Janessa has taken art classes since attending Juan Diego CHS; she is currently registered with the AP Art. After high school, Janessa plans to go to college, majoring in psychology and minoring in art. She hopes to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist or in marketing.

The Utah All-State High School Show will run through March 25. It is the result of an ongoing collaboration between the Springville Museum of Art, high school teachers and students, and various private partners. An online gallery of the works is available at

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