Capturing Metamorphosis: Valley Oaks Students Debut Art Show 

Friday December 8, 2023

For high school students, life is all about transition, going from childhood to adulthood or shifting from school to career. Art students at Valley Oaks Charter School (VOCS) are expressing their own transitions through an art show titled “Metamorphosis.”  

About 15 students with VOCS’s Career Technical Education Visual & Commercial Arts Program are displaying their art pieces in the school’s student art gallery and invited the public for a fundraising show Tuesday night. 

Senior Candace Coleman calls the CTE art class incredible. “[It] pulls out of you what you have inside yourself,” she said. 

Her mixed media on canvas piece is from the perspective of graduation day and how when she walks across that stage, she plans to look back on all the memories that brought her to that moment. 

Candace Coleman with her mixed media piece Reminisce

While a majority of the artists are in high school, the show was an open call for all artists on campus. All ages were represented, including one third grader with her own piece, and a group of junior high students, who contributed to the center art piece of butterflies suspended from the ceiling.

Sarah Samms is the CTE Visual & Commercial Arts instructor. She says her students worked with her through every step in the process to bring the show together. She says this is good practice for the spring, when the class seniors will be in charge of a show from start to finish. 

Several of the students said they were encouraged by Samms to express themselves in whatever way they choose, including using a variety of art forms and mediums.  

“I guide them more, rather than direct,” said Samms. “I want them to develop from where they’re at, so I try to very much keep it open.” 

Sophomore Saphira Phillips says she was happy to be allowed to experiment with aerosol paint for her piece “Street Art Study.” Her canvas tote was one of the items for sale in the fundraiser. 

Saphira Phillips with her piece Street Art Study, Aerosol on Canvas Tote

“When I do this, I feel like I’m expressing love and beauty,” Phillips said.  

She added she loves to put her artistic skills to use making gifts for family and friends.  

Funds raised from the art show will go toward materials and experiences not covered by school funds, such as displays for the gallery or special trips for the students.  

Samms says art is so much more than just a fun, elective class. Art and other CTE courses are necessary to nurture important life skills such as creative problem solving, troubleshooting, and critical thinking. Her goal is to create well-rounded students who are ready for the next stage in life.  

“I want the kids when they finish here to be confident in who they are,” she said. 

Hope Bewick (left) with her sculpture Nourishment and Yasmeen Hussein (right) with her sculpture Weathered Beauty

Hope Bewick showcased her sculpted piece titled “Nourishment.” She says students are represented by the book, flowers, and butterflies while teachers are the watering can, encouraging students to grow and thrive. 

A large-scale sculpture titled “Open Mind” features a cardboard box suspended in the air, tipped over with documents, books, notebooks and more spilling out. Juniors Emily McClendon, Dylan Punt and Jayden Thomas say the box represents the students, and all the paper materials are the things they’ve learned along the way.  

Emily McClendon, Dylan Punt and Jayden Thomas with their mixed media sculpture Open Mind

Designer and former educator Ashley Hurlbert came to the show to support the art department and to visit former students. She says she’s inspired by the students’ self-expression: “They are doing things they never thought they were capable of.” 

Hurlbert says it’s vital to continue to support art and CTE programs. “If you give them the resources to do this, they will amaze you and they will amaze themselves,” she said. 

The art gallery will continue to run now through January 12 at the Bakersfield VOCS campus on North Chester Avenue. 

By Katie Avery

By Katie Avery

Katie Avery joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools in 2023 as a Communications Specialist. As a former journalist and marketing professional, her passions include media and storytelling. Before joining KCSOS, Avery worked for various local TV stations as well as the health care industry.