At Hillsboro High School, those students interested in a particularly challenging and rigorous curriculum have the option to follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) system, an internationally recognized educational path. While in the IB program, students are given the opportunity to take advanced and personalized courses in both academic classes and creative classes.
Seniors Erik Doty, Juliana Horner, and Lauren Taylor are three of Hillsboro’s students who have flourished in the arts under this international educational opportunity—in part due to the unique nature of the program and in part due to their veteran teacher Ms. Marti Profitt-Streuli, whom all three name as a major inspiration for their works.
Erik DotyPhotographer Erik Doty has made it his personal mission to never stop changing and finding new ways to spend his time and make his art. “I get so sick of seeing all the other photography that looked so much the same,” he said. “I want to make stuff that I hadn’t seen before.” However, his constant evolution from one project to the next is not always simple or unproblematic. “[It becomes] harder and harder as you get further and further in your art to come up with new ideas,” said Doty.
Despite the fact that every piece Doty creates is different from the last, the recurring theme throughout his works relates to the city. Oftentimes, Doty can be seen roaming the streets of downtown Nashville searching for new inspirations. The complex structures and intricate lines from downtown Nashville’s many buildings and bridges eventually led Doty to the montage style that he works with.
In many ways, Doty says that the urban art form of graffiti has directly influenced his work. “The main thing with graffiti is that you can’t copy anyone else,” he said. By playing with light in his photographs, Doty has even created images that are meant to be reminiscent of the graffiti style.
Doty’s works are usually montages or patchworks, a style that he was originally driven to create so that he could see an entire structure in one space. By showing a structure from multiple angles and in different lights, Doty says that he is able to show the entire building in a singular image.
After graduating from high school, Doty, also an extreme sports and bicycling enthusiast, plans to pack his bike and head to Colorado. Although he does not know many people in the area or have cemented plans for the next several years of his life, Doty notes that this is in keeping with his commitment to trying new things. “If you think about it too much, it takes the fun out of it,” Doty said. “I like spontaneous stuff.”
Juliana HornerAspiring fashion designer Juliana Horner’s life has been a compilation of romances. “I’ve always loved fashion. I love girly, cute things. I love Japanese toys. I love femininity,” she said. “I literally just love making things that are beautiful.”
As the daughter of an artist and textile designer, Horner has thrived in a creative environment for her entire life. Horner cites her mother as her greatest influence and has worked as her mother’s assistant. The two have designed textiles and garments collaboratively.
Horner describes her clothes as full of life, inserting exciting colors whenever possible, something she said eventually became a minor issue. An addiction to color, Horner said, resulted in overworked pieces, but she has learned to “use colors more intentionally.”Horner’s love for clothing and fashion has culminated in a concentration of works inspired by the concept of the role of femininity in modern society and “defining what is feminine.” Initially, Horner said that she rejected the label of a feminist because she “regarded it as something for man-haters,” but as she did more research on the subject, she was impressed and moved by what she found. “The outstanding statement of feminism is equality between women and men, and there is still a gender gap that is relevant,” she said. Ultimately Horner says that she tries to be objective when making her pieces so that she can show what feminism is without taking a stance for or against it. Next year, Horner plans to continue with a higher education in fashion design, most likely at one of the schools she was accepted to in or around New York City, a challenge that Horner is convinced she can conquer because of her experiences with Hillsboro’s art program. “[The program] is so self-guided,” she said. “You have to figure out for yourself what you’re really interested in and what you want to accomplish as an artist, and it’s helped me to find things out about myself that I didn’t know before.”
Lauren Taylor likes to imagine that the audience viewing her paintings would have a difficult time deciding whether or not they like what they see. “When people look at my artwork, they see something really brutal or grotesque,” said Taylor, “but when you get up close and see the detail behind it, it kind of softens that feeling.” At first glance, Taylor says, her paintings might appear harsh or bizarre, but the artist herself finds the imperfections in her subjects to be “beautiful in a weird sort of way.”According to Taylor, the idea of keeping her artwork personal is completely essential to the success of her pieces. Without the close connection between artist and artwork, she says, her products would suffer. Even if “the little things” that only she can see in the image—a line or stroke, for example—were lost, the quality of her paintings would deteriorate.
Taylor says that it is not solely the art program but also other academic classes at Hillsboro that have aided her in her pursuit to find her creative state of mind. She particularly cites the course “Theory of Knowledge” as an important learning exploration.
“It’s all about thinking outside of the box and looking at things from different perceptions, and that’s essential to making artwork,” Taylor said. “Because you can’t just look at something with one biased view; [you must] look at things at different angles and accept different ideas whether you believe them or not.”
As for her future plans, Taylor is still unsure where she will be spending the next four years of her life. She has been accepted to multiple art schools, where she will most likely pursue a career in art education. “I want to bring the art program to a better recognition,” she said. In the meantime, Taylor intends to carry on creating her beautifully grotesque pieces and finding her creative state of mind.
by Lindsey Victoria Thompson | photography by Anthony Scarlati