Arts Night

McKinleyville Art Night is the third Friday of each month. Mack Arts students participate in every Art Night while school is in session (a few dates are different due to school vacations). 

Each Art Night features newly created artwork in many different media, such as paintings, drawings, photos, sculptures, ceramics, and more. 

All students, parents, family, friends, and other community members are invited to enjoy our opening reception activities... 
  • Make-and-take art projects for all ages
  • An open ceramics studio 
  • Live music 
  • Live drama performances
  • Refreshments to share  
Most opening receptions are in the MHS Library from 6-8 pm. See the most current post below for specific details. 
Click on the fridge below to see the art show opening reception dates for the entire school year. Hope to see you there!
Show Schedule

April 2014: Earth Week Celebration

posted Apr 4, 2014, 2:36 PM by Mack Arts   [ updated Apr 4, 2014, 10:35 PM by Justine Smith ]

Mack Arts Students Celebrate Earth Week with Art

Students at McKinleyville High School are using the power of art to encourage social change through a week-long series of activities focused on the environment and conservation. "As inspiration for Earth Week activities, we are studying different ways in which artists throughout history have influenced change through their art," said fine art teacher Justine Smith. Mack Arts students have created public art pieces that will be installed in various locations on campus with the intention of making people think about what they can do to help make the Earth a safer and cleaner place for everyone. The entire student body will have the opportunity to join in the art making by participating in Pastels on the Quad. MHS students will be creating earth related pastel drawings on the sidewalks that surround the quad. Community members of all ages are invited to join the fun on Friday, April 18th. from 6 to 8 p.m. Pastels on the Quad


Kylee and Sierra
Kylee Durrett and Sierra Joyner participate in Pastels on the Quad by making conservation themed drawings for Earth Day. "Art has the power to make people change the way they behave or think because art has always had an effect on culture all around the world," said junior Sierra Joyner.  

"Art definitely has the power to influence people's actions. In art, you can present ideas with your own connotations like contrasting light and darkness, using bold colors, emphasizing particular subjects, etc. to influence  others toward favoring a cause. Ideology is given much more impact by aesthetics," says senior Peter Throssel.
Crystal and Kailey's Drawings
Each student designed their drawings to convey a message to the viewer. Crystal McKinney chose a direct approach with her drawing of the earth surrounded by arrows that symbolize recycling. Kailey Wallis' drawing of the bright sun shining on beautiful crashing waves has a more subtle message. 
"I believe that art does have the power to change the way people think and behave because art can show a new insight that people aren't exposed to in everyday life," said junior Kailey Wallis seen below on the left next to junior Crystal McKinney.

Kailey and Crystal

March 2014: Photo Show

posted Mar 8, 2014, 7:32 PM by Justine Smith   [ updated Mar 8, 2014, 10:41 PM ]

Real/Surreal Photo Show Poster

Erica working in Photoshop
Erica Anderson uses Photoshop, a photo editing software, to make her surreal collage.

Aurora and Brittany working in Photoshop
After taking photographs of transparent vessels like vases and jars, photo students Brittany Ross and Aurora Buhler use Photoshop to place unexpected objects inside. 
Surrealism is an art movement that began in the 1920's.  Surrealist artists portrayed real objects in unreal ways.  Art work like Salvador Dali's melting clocks and Rene Magritte's mind bending illusions come immediately to mind. Contemporary artists have continued to explore surrealistic themes in many mediums including photography.

"There are a few photographers, like Jerry Uelsmann, who make surreal photos by combining multiple negatives in the darkroom, but most modern photographers use Photoshop to make digital collages from several photos," says Mack Arts photography teacher Justine Smith.

Mack Arts students were challenged to take photos of transparent vessels in interesting environments and then use Photoshop to place unexpected scenes or objects inside the vessel. 

"The hardest part of this project was deciding what to photograph for the inside of the jar and to make it interesting for others to see. The detail that captured my imagination is the red color of the flower. Everything in the collage is cool except for the flower, which really makes it stand out," says Freshman Kaitlyn Hang about her photo collage of a tulip living inside a canning jar, left. 

"Finding the right scenery for inside the jar was difficult. I wanted the setting outside the jar to be beautiful but also contrast with the photo of the ocean I placed inside the jar. Making art is important because it reflects who you are as a person. It's a beautiful thing to create, you can make your own little world," says Freshman Brittany Ross about her surreal photo collage, below.

Brittany Ross' photo

After taking the photos they needed to make their surreal collages, Mack Arts students combined the images with Photoshop, a powerful photo editing software. Using the photo of the transparent vessel as the background, students cut out the object or scene to fit the shape of the jar. Finally, students used various Photoshop blending techniques to create the illusion that the object or scene was actually captured inside the vessel. 

The opening reception for the Real/Surrealphotography show is on Friday March 21 from 6-8 p.m. in the McKinleyville High School Library. The artwork will be on display from March 21-April 11. Community members are invited to attend the reception and enjoy other Family Art Night activities such as make-and-take art projects for all ages, an open ceramics lab, and refreshments. 

March 2014: Art Show

posted Mar 5, 2014, 7:13 PM by Justine Smith   [ updated Mar 8, 2014, 10:40 PM ]

The artwork showcased in
The Senior Portfolio Show poster
the Senior Portfolio Show was made by a very special group of artists. They have all participated in fine arts classes at McKinleyville High School for two to four years. Most students have taken a variety of fine arts classes such as art, photography, and ceramics and most are also in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Fine Arts students in the IB program can earn college credit by submitting a portfolio of artwork, an artist research sketchbook, an extensive artist statement, and a recorded interview in which they explain the conceptual and technical aspects of their work. 

                                                            This whimsical show poster features the eleven seniors included in the Senior Portfolio Show.

Through the experience of creating their portfolios, these young artist have not only perfected technical skills, but have also developed their own unique artistic styles and philosophies. 

"Art is not just a hobby for me, it's a lifestyle. Through my art, I am able to communicate thoughts and ideas in a way that words can't. Art allows me to create something beautiful out of nothing, which I think is an amazing ability. Throughout my high school art career, I have experimented with many mediums, watercolor, pencil, tempera, acrylic, paper, photo, and even live plants. I discovered after many, many art projects that acrylic paint, pencil, and book pages are my favorite mediums to use. With acrylic paint, I like to incorporate smooth color gradients often using pinks, yellows, oranges, and white to create a glowing effect." says Izzy Way whose painting is seen below.
Art work by Izzy Way

Art work by Brenna Coley
"Art is important to me because it expresses who I am. I can show that through the subjects I choose. My favorite subjects are rain, trees, and butterflies. My greatest success throughout my art experience at MHS is figuring out what type of art I like and expressing what I believe. I like to make art using color and emotion. My favorite medium is acrylic paint and watercolor," says Brenna Coley whose multimedia artwork is seen above.

February 2014: Photo Show

posted Feb 14, 2014, 2:10 PM by Justine Smith   [ updated Feb 19, 2014, 9:36 AM ]

Show PosterHow do photographers make an ordinary subject look unique and interesting? 

One technique used by students in Justine Smith's Photography class at McKinleyville High School is to photograph the subject from an unexpected point of view. 

"I chose Keisha Jamerson's photo to use for the Point of View show poster because it is very intriguing. By taking her photo from a bug's eye point of view, Keisha made ordinary rubber balls look like giant monoliths. I also really enjoy the color palette, it has a retro feel," says Mrs. Smith. 

"With photography you can capture different aspects of life in diverse ways. I like photography because it's not limiting to creativity, ideas captured in photos can be interpreted in ways that haven't been thought of before," says sophomore Keisha Jamerson.

Mack Arts photo students chose a diverse range of subjects to document for their Point of View photos. Senior Christian Webb captured the bold, graphic image of the American flag seen on the right. 

"I like the challenge of setting up a scene just the way I want it. One of the things that makes this photo interesting is the dramatic camera angle. I also like the way the repetition of the lines on the flag are echoed in the lines of the wood paneling on the wall. With photography you can communicate a story visually," says Webb. 

Most photos of babies are carefully posed and taken from the front. The unusual point of view and spontaneous feeling of junior Kalyn Abeyta's photo, below right, invites the viewer take a second look. 

"The dark background makes the profile of the baby stand out. Her dark eye and lashes contrast with her pale skin, which makes you focus on her eye. The line created by the necklace also leads your eye to her face. Art is important because it is a way to express yourself and inspire others," says Abeyta. 

Another example of the wide range of subjects explored by Mack Arts photo students is sophomore Austin Stockwell's hauntingly beautiful landscape, below.

"The blurriness makes the image mysterious and gives it an all over softness. I achieved the effect by taking the photo through a rain drenched window. What really makes this photo special, however, is the lighting. I took it at sun rise just as the sun was coming over the trees to illuminate a field of grass. The shadowy areas contrast with the brightly lit sky.  One important thing about art is it allows you to express your ideas and feelings through more than words.  I wasn't sure how the photo was going to turn out when I took it, but sometimes in photography unexpected things turn out really well," says Stockwell.

The opening reception for the Point of View photo show is in the McKinleyville High School Library on February 28th. from 6-8 pm.  Community members are invited to attend an opening reception and enjoy other Family Art Night activities such as make-and-take art project for all ages, an open ceramics lab, and refreshments.

photo by Christian Webb

photo by Kalyn Abeyta

February 2014 Art Show

posted Feb 14, 2014, 9:44 AM by Justine Smith   [ updated Feb 18, 2014, 10:49 AM by Mack Arts ]

Art Show Poster
Students in Justine Smith's Advanced Art classes at McKinleyville High School recently studied the traditional art forms of three different cultures. Cut paper Indonesian shadow puppets, are cleverly articulated and amazingly detailed.Notans are bold black and white, symmetrical art works. Papel picado are colorful paper flags perforated with patterned designs. 

"We look at the traditional art forms and also contemporary artists who were influenced by those art forms," says Mrs. Smith. "Then the students take what they learned and design a unique art project."

Students begin the creative process by conceptualizing in their artist sketchbooks. After developing their ideas, students conduct media experiments and then begin their final projects. Sophomore Cayla Lynch, below, shows her work in progress, inspired by contemporary artist Jonathan Borofsky 
Cayla Art work
Cayla Lynch holds up her work in progress.

Junior Chesiree Katter used a different technique to realize her artistic vision. "The focal point of my project is an intricately patterned bird. I surrounded the bird with detailed decorative cut outs and then painted the whole thing with metallic watercolor. I used contrasting colors and gradations of value to emphasize certain areas of the composition. I was influenced by studying the art of contemporary Japanese artist Risa Fukui. I found inspiration in her use of line, texture, and intricate detail." 

Chesiree Katter holding her work in progress.

Other students were influenced by more traditional art forms. "My project is based on the concept of Notans, a Japanese art form that uses positive and negative space to express the idea of balancing light and dark," says junior Cole Davis. "I took the idea of a Notan and applied it to things I'm interested in. First I drew a Kudu, a type of antelope that I saw when I went on a safari in Africa, in the form of a Notan. Then I used a projector to enlarge my drawing and transfer it to a four foot high piece of plywood." 

Through their experiences in art class, students are gaining a greater understanding of the importance of art in their lives. 

"Making art allows me to express myself in unique and original ways. Art is important because it gives people an outlet for what they're feeling. For the artist, making art can be a way of coping and of helping others who are dealing with the same things," states Chesiree Katter.

"Art is an outlet. It takes your mind off all the struggles in life. Almost anything can be considered an art form if you think about it. I particularly enjoy working with wood, metal, and ceramics," says Cole Davis. 

The projects inspired by the various cultures and artists will be on display in the Paper Arts show February 28-March 14 in the McKinleyville High School Library. Community members are invited to attend an opening reception on February 28th. from 6-8 pm. In addition to the art work, guests of all ages can make a shadow puppet, enjoy refreshments and visit the ceramics lab.  

Ethan and Sophia
Ethan Hemphill-Haley and Sophia Haag working on their paper art projects.
Cayla's Sketchbook
Cayla Lynch's artist sketchbook.

Chesiree Artwork
Chesiree Katter's finished paper art project.

Cole with his art
Cole Davis with his Notan inspired Kudu painting.

January 2014: Art Show

posted Jan 3, 2014, 4:49 PM by Justine Smith   [ updated Jan 16, 2014, 4:30 PM by Mack Arts ]

Mack Arts Students Embrace Diversity

In his famous I Have a Dream speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

At McKinleyville High School many teachers use the celebration of Dr. King’s birthday as an opportunity to teach about his life and achievements. Many of our students have heard Dr. King’s message of peace and equality, and are applying it to their everyday lives and actions. After months of preparation and effort, Mack Arts photography and art students will be unveiling their Unity Through Diversity mural on January 17th from 6-8 pm on the MHS quad.

“The mural project allows us to see things from outside the school, that everyone is different; we just don’t know that until they come up to talk to us, or we go up to them and talk to them. So, we cannot really pass judgment,” says Mack Arts student Kevin Vigus.

January Poster

Above: Kevin Vigus, Tiffany Anderson, and Ashlyn Holderread hold up their finished portraits while standing in front of the partially completed Unity Through Diversity mural.

“When we started brainstorming ideas for the mural, we weren't thinking about Dr. King specifically. We wanted to make a public artwork that celebrates the diversity of the MHS student body. It’s great that the unveiling is happening close to Dr. King’s birthday, when we reflect on his life and accomplishments. The mural ties in beautifully with his teachings,” says Mack Arts teacher Justine Smith.  

Above: Izzy Way carefully paints her “stencil” on to a bright blue wood panel.

Mack Arts students began the mural project by using Photoshop software to convert a self-portrait into a simplified “stencil” and then painted their portrait onto brightly colored wood panels. The stencil-look was inspired by the colorful silkscreens of Pop Art legend Andy Warhol and the stencil art of contemporary street artist Banksy. The finished Unity Through Diversity mural consists of 95 panels, measures 7 feet high by 17.5 feet long, and will be installed on quad at McKinleyville High School.

Above: Allison Hartley uses a detail brush on her mural panel.

Being part of the Unity Through Diversity project has empowered MHS students to be both learners and teachers. “The mural helps teach diversity and how everyone’s different, but we’re all the same at the same time. It really shows that in a physical way,” says Allison Hartley as she meticulously paints her portrait above. “It’s relevant to our modern time with the all of the equal rights issues that we always have going on in our society,” Hartley continues.


December 2013: Photo Show

posted Dec 2, 2013, 2:36 PM by Mack Arts   [ updated Dec 4, 2013, 3:39 PM by Justine Smith ]

December Poster

Game of Life Photo Show
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to live inside a board game? The creative minds in Justine Smith's Photography class at McKinleyville High School are answering this question with their Game of Life photo collages. "I'm always impressed with individual variations the students come up with. It's a really fun project," says Mrs. Smith. Photo students use game boards as the setting and then, with a little Photoshop wizardry, insert themselves into the game. 

The opening reception for the Game of Life photo show will be on December 13th. in the MHS Library from 6-8 pm. The whole community is invited to view the art, enjoy refreshments, participate in make and take art projects and visit the ceramics lab. The photo collages will be on display in the library until January 10th.  For more information visit the Mack Arts website at
Jordan and Emily
Jordan Brummell and Emily Greenough work together to capture just the right 
composition for their game board projects. 
Ashlyn Holderread focuses in on a Candyland game board. Come see her finished 
project and many more at Mack Arts Night on December 13th.

December 2013: Art Show

posted Dec 2, 2013, 10:18 AM by Mack Arts   [ updated Sep 11, 2014, 3:51 PM by Justine Smith ]

December Poster

The Art of Illustration

Many people are familiar with the beautiful and inspiring illustrations in children's books. Names like Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter immediately come to mind. Telling a story through drawings or paintings, choice of fonts, creating balance between the image and the text on the page... these are but a few of the considerations Mack Arts students had to think about while designing their own illustrations. 

For this project, Mack Arts students could illustrate their own writing or the writing of a famous author or poet. "I remember reading books by Ezra Jack Keats as a child, that's why I chose him as my inspiration for this project," says Kailey Wallis. "I like how he uses weather in his stories, like in A Snowy Day. I'm using watercolor and pen and ink for my project. Pen and ink is a great medium because it's versatile, you can make elegant marks or sloppy marks." 
Students also chose an artist to give them ideas for creating their own artwork. "I chose Edward Gorey as my inspiration artist," says John Lopez. "Gorey uses black lines to make patterns and shading in his illustrations. His stories explore dark themes and remind me of Tim Burton."

Many students took the opportunity to explore different art techniques and materials, such as traditional pen and ink drawing. "Pen and ink is a new medium for me. I enjoy making quick, free form lines and then adding watercolor," says Sierra Joyner. "The black ink makes the colors stand out more and the drawings are neater with outlines. I chose E.H. Shepard, who illustrated the original Winnie the Pooh books, as my inspiration." 

Tiffany Anderson uses watercolor and marker on her illustration inspired by Dr. Seuss. 

November 2013: Photo Show

posted Nov 7, 2013, 6:06 PM by Mack Arts   [ updated Nov 8, 2013, 8:33 AM ]

Unique Portraits Photography Show

Portraits are one of the most common types of photographs made. It can be very challenging to make portraits that go above and beyond what we are used to seeing. The Unique Portraits exhibition is a showcase of photos made by Mack Arts students that take the art of portraiture in new directions. 

The opening reception for Unique Portraits is on November 15th in the MHS Library from 6-8 pm. In addition to viewing the art work, there will be an open ceramics lab, make-and-take art projects for all ages, and refreshments to enjoy. The show will continue until December 6th.


November Photo Poster

Austin Stockwell’s photo was used for the November Photography Show Poster.  Austin set up the lighting and chose the prop for his intriguing self portrait.

Keisha Jamerson wanted to capture a certain mood in her portrait of classmate Ashlyn Holderread. “I chose Ashlyn as my model because she has soft, curvy features. I was getting a saddish vibe from her that day, so I had her look down and told her not to smile. I like the way the photo turned out. I think it communicates my ideas,” says Keisha. 

When asked what’s it’s like to be a model for a photo shoot Ashlyn Holderread had this to say, “It’s a fun new experience. I am now part of Keisha’s art, I helped her make her idea reality. That’s a good feeling."

Below: A portrait of Ashlyn Holderread taken by Keisha Jamerson.


Below: Makenzi Lakey created this portrait of Amber Whitwell by projecting a lace pattern over her body.  


November 2013: Art Show

posted Nov 7, 2013, 5:36 PM by Mack Arts   [ updated Jan 3, 2014, 5:10 PM by Justine Smith ]

Mural Design Art Show

If you could paint a mural on the McKinleyville High School campus what would it look like? Where would you paint it? What would the message be? These are questions Mack Arts students were challenged to answer with their mural design projects.

November Art Show Poster
“I want to make my mural design something inspirational that will make people think when they look at it,” says Josh Sandige who chose Banksy, a well know mural artist, as inspiration for his art work. “I like to work with stencils, so Banksy is ideal. All of Bansky’s work has deeper meaning.”

Above: Josh Sandige holds his artist’s sketchbook 
open to his research of Banksy, a famous mural artist.

Micalia Bideaux designed a panther standing on a rock formation with paw prints leading up to it.  “I would paint my mural on the wall between the multipurpose room and the drama room. Many people would be able to see it because it is on the quad where students hang out during lunch and breaks. The meaning of my mural is to celebrate school spirit,” says Micalia.

Above: Micalia Bideaux holds up the rough draft 
for her mural design.

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