Art school shows off multimedia projects

Freestyle Academy art exhibition features student work

Whether it's expressing yourself through music and poetry or telling a story through photos, students at Freestyle Academy are always looking at ways to communicate through new and interesting artistic mediums. On May 27, students will get to show off their artistic chops at the Freestyle Academy Art Exhibition.

Freestyle Academy is an art and technology school within the Mountain View Los Altos school district that serves as an alternative classroom environment for students who want experience in photography, film, website production and graphic design. Students spend half their school day at the two-year program for English, fine arts and elective classes, and the other half at either Mountain View or Los Altos high schools.

The art exhibition will be held at Freestyle Academy, 1299 Bryant Avenue, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. It will also include a presentation in the Spartan Theater at 6:30, located on the Mountain View High School campus at 3535 Truman Avenue.

The exhibition includes documentary projects that tell a story about a place in the community, according to Leo Florendo, program coordinator at Freestyle Academy. Students go out and find a place they find interesting, and develop a narrative for a photographic book and either a film or website -- all different mediums for telling the same story. That place can be something like the Rengstorff House, New Hope International Church, or even a farm.

Parker Malachowsky, a senior at Freestyle, did his documentary on Veggielution, a community farm in San Jose that focuses on organic food and sustainability. Malachowsky said the farm serves people in a region where many kids have no sense of where their food comes from, and his project covers issues looking at the benefits and costs of buying organic.

Beyond storytelling projects, the exhibition will have surrealist artwork, illustrations and photos. All the projects are digitally designed, with some fine arts components integrated into the process, according to Leslie Parkinson, the digital photography and graphic design teacher at Freestyle.

For example, in the "experimental" art project, juniors come up with an idea and find ways to represent that concept through metaphors and visual representation. Parkinson said students can incorporate typical fine art tools like pastels, pen, ink and watercolor, but it still gets scanned and put into a digital format for production.

As with most big projects, Parkinson said this week is crunch time for students trying to finish their work in time for the exhibition next week.

This will be the fifth end-of-year exhibition to be held at the school. Florendo said it used to be held off-campus at places like Nvidia and Microsoft, but in 2009 the students decided it would be better to host it right at the Freestyle campus.

"Students wanted to have it here," Florendo said. "To show people, 'Here's what we do, and here's where we do it.'"

Florendo said the exhibition will be presented in as an open house, with display panels for the art both inside and outside the campus buildings, and computers will be available to view websites, audio, video and film projects.

There will also be a "best in show" presentation at the Mountain View High School Spartan Theater. Florendo said the presentation will show the best of the films and videos, including experimental and documentary film projects.


Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

This program of the high school district is very innovative and fun for the students who mesh with this type of learning. A superbly targeted use of Shoreline tax district (JPA) money and various other special funds. An example of how Google $$ can end up directly benefiting local education.
The program I have found is particularly good at trying to combine academic learning with PBL (OK edspeak Project Based Learning). But it is not just high-tech digital, it includes various other forms of expression.
Definitely worth-while going to if you have elementary and/or middle school students who like projects and creative design challenges.

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