Student Spotlight: Upper Schooler Oliver R. Finds His Voice as an Artist

Oliver R. didn’t discover his passion for art until his junior year, let alone consider artmaking as a future path. But since then Oliver, who is finishing his senior year, has wasted no time making his mark, and has found his distinctive voice through a thorough exploration of the diverse experiences Calhoun offers.

Oliver has just created his first stop-motion animation, “The Conductor,” an impressive achievement for a young artist such as himself. Below, we chat with Oliver to learn more about his film and personal path to artmaking.

What was the inspiration behind this project?

It all started with a class I took here at Calhoun called Microfictions. My teacher, Jarrad, assigned a creative writing project where we had to write with sensory language. In doing that, I wrote about things like a crackling pipe or the sound of a train, and as I was writing I realized, “I could visualize this as an animation.” So what started as a creative story turned into a screenplay for “The Conductor.”

What drew you to animation as a medium?

I’ll be an illustration major at the School of Visual Arts next year, and I’m really drawn to the idea of art as storytelling. I had never tried animation before this project, but was interested in the way it brings together drawing, storytelling and film.

Pretty impressive for your first animated film! What has the process of discovering yourself as an artist looked like here at Calhoun?

I’ve grown dramatically because of Calhoun’s art teachers, and have been able to turn to each of them for guidance in different areas. The art education I’ve received here has been comprehensive and very diverse. There are general art classes as well as more niche classes, such as one that combines anthropology and art [Future Fossils, Future Artifacts]. I’ve been able to combine different subjects within art and have unique experiences.

What experiences at Calhoun have been instrumental in your growth as an artist?

Through opportunities like Junior Workshop or independent study, I’ve had the time to explore and experiment, which I think is really important as an artist. It’s taught me to not be afraid to fail. I’ve also had a lot of different opportunities to share my work. Recently, for a performance of the Calhoun Percussion Ensemble, I was invited to create art that was shown on the screen alongside the music.

How has your time at Calhoun prepared you for what comes next?

Calhoun has provided me with the confidence to go into the real world. For example, [as part of Calhoun’s Senior Work program], I’m interning with the Society of Illustrators. Working a real job with a real boss, seeing your work go out into the world – I think it’s one of the most important parts of the high school experience that not all high schools have.