Contursi Named Artist of the Week by the OC Register

NikkaBy: JEBB HARRIS, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The Orange County Register profiles this week’s artist of the week, JSerra senior and Ladera Ranch resident, Nikka Contursi.

What art form(s) do you work in? Photography

How did you get involved in photography? I started taking pictures at my parents’ Christmas parties when I was about 4 years old. The angles were pretty hilarious – mostly shots of headless guests, legs and shoes. After that, I put down the disposable camera for a while until I borrowed my mom’s Nikon N2000 in middle school, and I haven’t put it down since!

What is your favorite work of art/photograph? Who is your favorite artist/photographer? I have loved Richard Avedon’s “Dovima With Elephants” since I was about 12, and it’s still one of my favorites. Something about the photograph just always seems to draw my attention. I admire so many photographers’ work, but to name a few: Avedon, Mark “The Cobrasnake” Hunter, Hugh Lippe, Arthur Elgort and Annie Leibovitz.

Who have been your influences? Did you have a mentor in your development as an artist? If so, how did they help you? Ms. Stehney, photography instructor at JSerra, has inspired me since the day I stepped foot in her classroom during my sophomore year. She has accomplished a wide range of work during her very successful career, and stories of her travels and work inspire me to continue shooting. I would not be where I am today without her enthusiasm and constant encouragement. She treats me like a professional rather than just a teenage student. She has continued to help me grow.

What inspires you? During the creative process I can be inspired by anything, but if I am looking for inspiration, I often go to couture and street fashion, people-watching and pop culture.

Other than photography, are you involved in any other activities?  If so, what are they? I am on the varsity tennis team at JSerra. I also volunteer by helping young children learn the fundamentals of tennis, and I work on my online portfolio:nikkaacontursii.tumblr.com.

What do you get out of taking pictures? I am a very visual person, so photography allows me to express my ideas without speaking. It’s also lots of fun because there are no rules and I’m able to create whatever I want. Photography also gives me a break from the real world. I can sit on my computer for hours editing photographs and never get bored. It’s something that brings me happiness.

How do the arts figure into your long-term goals? I hope to attend either Parsons in New York City or Academy of Art in San Francisco. I’d also like to spend a year studying abroad. My ultimate goal as of now is to become a fashion photographer and travel the world doing what I love.

What is the best advice you have received? Some of the best advice I have received has come from my parents. My mom and dad have been my support system since Day One, always catching me when I fall, and constantly telling me to never stop pursuing my dreams and not to let anyone get in my way. I don’t know what I would do without all of their continuous support.

Do you have any other thoughts about being a photographer that you would like to share with us? Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back in pursuing your dreams, shoot every single day and have fun doing what you love!

JSerra Students Exhibit Photography in Laguna Pageant of the Masters

student2Ten pieces of student photography will be displayed in the Laguna Pageant of the Masters, the most of any Orange County School.

Each piece was selected by art authorities from thousands of submissions representing schools throughout Orange County. The exhibit has become not only a showcase for new generations of young Orange County student artists but also a vivid testimonial to the value and importance of continuing arts education in our school systems.

Junior, Nikka Contursi will exhibit three photos at the Laguna Pageant of the Masters, the most from any school in the history of the pageant. 
The following students have demonstrated excellence in traditional darkroom skills, alternative processes and digital media:

Connection- Aryanna Hamidi

Playful Lions- Kelsey Testman

Dream Big- Josephine Duran

New Beginning- Zach Woznicki

Face Up- Courtney Vaccher

Insomnia – Nicolette Contursi

Cost was here- Nicolette Contursi

Broguiere’s – Nicolette Contursi

Blind -Courtney Strafeldas

Presentation of Time- Claire Grace

“I’m so proud of all my students and their hard work, this is such an honor,” said Regina Stehney, photography teacher.

The exhibit is now showing through August 31 from 10 a.m. –11:30, at Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach.

JSerra International Student Arranges Song for Choir’s Farewell Concert

AndrewBy Lauren Shepherd, OC Register 

JSerra Catholic High School’s first graduating international student Seung Hyun (Andrew) Lee, from Seoul, South Korea, has been teaching his fellow chamber singers his own arrangement of a Korean folk song for choir’s Spring Farewell Concert. Four years ago, Lee and his family searched for the right school in Southern California that would give him a unique high school experience.

“When I saw that JSerra was accepting international students I took the opportunity,” Lee said. He started his freshman year of high school at JSerra with a love for music and a prodigal talent that would impress his fellow chamber singers.

“It’s really interesting to know that someone so young can be so musically inclined,” said JSerra sophomore and first-year chamber singer, Ian von Gremp. “It’s nice to know that my friend Andrew arranged it,”

Lee became president of the chamber choir, and with his leadership taught his fellow chamber singers the ancient Korean folk song, “Arirang,” which he arranged to fit his own interpretation of its meaning.

“Andrew has always been our leader,” junior and third year chamber singer, Annie Pfost said. “Choir is like a family and Andrew is like the cool big brother.”

“Arirang,” a song handed down through many generations, was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, in December.

At last year’s Spring Concert, Renée Bondi, Christian inspiration singer and mother to JSerra chamber singer, Daniel Bondi, told Lee about her concert in Korea. She said when she sang “Arirang” for the finale, everyone there began to sing along with her. With that motivation, Lee decided to arrange “Arirang” for his high school choir.

To read the complete article click here.

Winter Showcase Attracts the Masses

482810_536951743011273_986345173_nBy: Nancy Harrell, Artist in Residence Director

The Artist In Residence program hosted their annual Winter Showcase at SOKA University this February. The showcase highlighted many of the 750 students that participate in the arts. The audience of over 600 was enthusiastic in receiving the performances, and helped make the evening a great success.

The student performances were classic, fun, experimental, and emotional. Performances included everything from classical ballet pieces performed using New York Ballet choreography, to the choir ending the evening with a beautiful rendition of ‘The Lord Bless you and Keep You,’ while dancers performed a sacred dance piece to the music.

Choir also brought down the house with their version of Fun’s ‘Some Nights’. Instrumental music showed off their abilities with our string ensemble and our steel drum band bringing the audience to their feet. The theater department opened the show with ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ and concluded with a stage combat scene from Romeo and Juliet.

Visual Arts and Broadcast Journalism students were well represented with a visual arts show and reception in the lobby before the performances began. Broadcast Journalism presented a wonderful piece showing the best of The Lion Report, which showed the tremendous growth our students have experienced this year with the implementation of our new Broadcast Journalism program.

The evening highlighted what a presence the visual and performing arts have on campus, and it continues to grow.

View the album from the night’s performances on Facebook. 

Photography Student Art Work on Display at the Laguna Beach Art Museum

The students in JSerra teacher Regina Stehney’s class will be exhibiting their Photography at The Laguna Beach Art Museum.

The opening night reception will take place Saturday, October 29 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. The work will be on exhibit from October 30, 2011 – January 22, 2012.

This show is in conjunction with a great show- Best Kept Secret: UCI and the Development of Contemporary Art in Southern California, 1964-1971 .

JSerra students featured in the Laguna Beach Art Show

Ms. Stehney commented  “I am so proud of all of my students they have learned that hard work and high standards produce excellence in art.” She went on to add  “Their extraordinary works exhibited in this exhibition reveal the creativity and high aspirations of young people. The project they will be showing is about their perception of beauty. The book we created will be on exhibit as well.” Contact Ms. Stehney with questions about the exhibit.