The Octagon

New National Art Honor Society president hopes to spread art, creativity across campus


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Jacqueline Chao
Senior Bella Mathisen, president of the National Art Honor Society, teaches sophomore Erin Wilson how to spray paint an apple. Over the summer, Mathisen wrote a proposal for funds and permission to add spray paint to the high school art curriculum, which was later approved by head of high school Brooke Wells. “We haven’t gotten all the masks or new paint yet, but it’s exciting,” Mathisen said.

“Art is my detox,” senior Bella Mathisen, the new president of National Art Honor Society (NAHS), said.

NAHS is a program where certain schools are chosen to be involved in a national organization to allow talented artists to be recognized. Students in the program have an opportunity to receive art scholarships and get into several art schools such as the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

Despite having been elected only a year ago, Mathisen has already begun several projects, such as working on getting more murals on campus and also adding more art around the SCDS community in general.

The NAHS acts as the White House for Mathisen as she plans new ideas for this organization.

However, Mathisen said that four years ago, she would not have even imagined being president of the NAHS.

“I always sketched a lot in middle school, but I never really took it seriously until freshman year when I took Studio Art,” Mathisen said.

“It was then that I realized I really loved art as a hobby. In sophomore year I took all three drawing classes with (teacher Andy Cunningham) and Advanced Art with (former teacher Patricia Kelly).”

Mathisen had always been an artist at heart, and once she discovered that art was where her passion lied, she decided to showcase it to the world.

“After sophomore year, I realized that I wanted to pursue art professionally and do what I could for the arts community in Sacramento while I had the chance,” Mathisen said.

Ever since that decision, Mathisen has decided to make changes to her community through NAHS; one of the things she has accomplished so far is having a student art show, which was held Sept. 7.

“I feel like having an art show is important because digital art never really gives off the full effect of the artwork,” she said. “When you actually get to see the artwork in person, it adds so much more meaning to the art.”

She has also pushed for getting spray paint for Country Day so that muralists can have access to it.

“A lot of people just see spray paint as graffiti, but I see it as an up-and-coming art form, and it’s important for our muralists to explore this new media,” Mathisen said.

While Mathisen has started making these changes to the art community over the summer, she still has more ideas in mind. She said she wants to collaborate with lower school students to add more art to the Country Day community.

“I was thinking of having them paint the recycling bins in their classrooms,” Mathisen said. “I think it would just add a nice creative touch to our school.”

Mathisen also took part in Chalk It Up, an event that encourages all artists to create beautiful artwork with chalk all along the sidewalk of Fremont Park. This event lasted Sept. 1-3.

“Chalk It Up was great!” Mathisen said. “We had six students come help us, and it ended up looking really cool.”  

She has also gotten requests from students to create more murals – and art in general – around campus. With Mathisen’s new ideas, she has caught the attention of many people who have worked with the NAHS before. Former president of the NAHS, Isabelle Leavy, ’17, worked with Mathisen for a while and said she was confident in her abilities.

 “I especially loved the mural that the NAHS did on the gym last year,” Leavy said.

“I sometimes worry that my legacy in art at SCDS is not very strong because I was so busy, (and) I didn’t consider all the new and cool things I could be doing. I’m proud that Bella, who can easily claim I mentored for a while there, is going to go far and do some really cool stuff with the NAHS.”

Mathisen said that her main goal for NAHS this year is to make it clear that she doesn’t want art to be limited to just artists – rather, she wants everyone to create art.

She said she is trying to encourage all students to fall in love with art just as much as she did and express it no matter how good or bad they are at it.

“The organization right now just consists of the AP Art Studio students, but I really want to expand it to all students because all creativity and art is important.” Mathisen said.

Check back soon to see Mathisen’s reflections on how the student art show that she coordinated went. 

—By Hailey Fesai

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