Senior Lilah Shorey is dynamically artistic. Since elementary school, Shorey’s teachers have described Shorey’s creative ambition and work ethic as a driving force, guiding them into the branching paths of music and artistic expression.
Shorey is an integral part of the arts community of Country Day. From seven years of study under art teacher Andy Cunningham to being the lead guitarist of the Garage Band, Shorey’s creativity and artistic prowess are impossible to miss.
“Teaching Lilah is like herding cats,” Cunningham said. “It’s just containing and guiding their ambition.”
Shorey’s love for art permeates every aspect of their life. They design their clothing, make jewelry and draw incessantly.
“Lilah has a sketchbook that is for sketches,” Cunnigham said. “They respect that not every piece can be finished.”
Shorey has earned respect for a deep understanding of the creative process. Cunningham repeatedly praises Shorey’s perseverance and respect for learning.
Cunningham especially praised Shorey’s proficiency in articulately describing what aspects of a piece or style Shorey enjoys. Shorey’s style is an impressive amalgamation of influences and personal flair that pulls from sources like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and a vast assortment of popular culture, especially media like “Watchmen” or “The Boys.”
Shorey’s ambition shows through their art. Cunningham says they are constantly looking, finding new interpretations and logging them away.
“It’s more just like I give them time and space and some questioning,” Cunningham said. “We can talk about what they’re doing, what they see and what they might want to do to get there.”
Shorey is endlessly working — drawing commissions on the side and logging their ongoing progress on their Instagram art page, @lilahroseart.
Shorey’s online presence as an artist has grown with their skill. The platform provides resources and valuable feedback.
“I’ve been on Instagram doing that stuff since 2018. I’ve made a lot of really good connections with all kinds of artists,” Shorey said. “I had an online friend who’s super good at watercolor. So I asked her for some help and she gave me some tips and ideas and it really helped me.”
Shorey showcased their iron-clad work ethic through this year’s annual chalk mural showcase, which they described as a trying process.
Shorey recreated “Traveller,” a complex and vibrantly colorful piece by Taiwanese visual artist James Jean.
Even under normal circumstances, this would have been an extremely challenging piece to recreate, but Shorey also had to combat a seemingly evil sprinkler system.
“I spent the first day working from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. without any breaks. I spent like half the first day doing line work and then getting into coloring,” Shorey said. “And then I woke up the next morning to get a photo from my friend who was there already. There were streaks of water straight through my work.”
Shorey worked hard again on day two to make it back to the coloring phase. This time the sprinklers turned on midday, and Shorey had to watch as hours of work literally dissolved in front of their eyes.
“It was a very hard experience. I think that’s one of the times I think I’ve wanted to quit the most,” Shorey said. “I have a problem where I don’t let myself quit. It wasn’t to my standards, so I just kept working.”
Chalk was also a relatively new medium for Shorey, who usually sticks to graphite and colored pencils. Beyond chalk, Shorey is working on mastering acrylic paints and watercolors while experimenting with a less familiar medium, oil paints.
As a student in Advanced Placement Studio Art, Shorey has been refining their portfolio, which serves as the final exam for the class. They have settled on depicting the history of rock and roll through portraits. As an avid Led Zeppelin and Beatles fan, Shorey has filled their notebooks with portraits of the bands’ members.
As part of the portfolio, Shorey has also cracked open a new sketchbook, devoting it to studying outside of their usual comfort zone of portraits and understanding the art of the human form.
But this is not just a mild case of Beatlemania. Shorey has been fascinated with pop culture and music as a whole for as long as their family can remember.
“When they did all the testing to get into Country Day and everything, Lilah was four years old,” said Melissa Shorey, Lilah’s mom. “I remember getting the result saying that Lilah was not clear on body parts. They asked Lilah how they heard music. Lilah said with my heart, and they marked them down.”
Since then, Shorey has rotated through a slew of instruments. They credit their start in the musical world to a “rocking” recorder solo for a Grandparent’s Day performance in lower school. After some time on the recorder, Shorey picked up the alto saxophone in fifth grade and began familiarizing themselves with the world of performing.
They played saxophone in the school’s concert band through eighth grade before making the switch into the world of rock and roll in sophomore year. Shorey left the saxophone behind for a spot as the lead electric guitarist for Country Day’s Garage Band.
Now, as a senior with three years of experience under their belt, Shorey has a heavy hand in song selection. So far, the group’s repertoire includes songs by Hole, The Cure and The Violent Femmes, all favorites of Shorey.
Shorey is almost entirely self-taught. They briefly took guitar lessons before the onset of the pandemic but have subsisted solely on their fundamentals and learned as many songs as they could since then.
Shorey faces many common guitar-playing challenges. They are “cursed” with tiny hands, which make certain techniques such as bar chords an ever-present challenge.
Shorey’s dual passions play into each other. As Shorey grows as an artist, so does their ambition. They constantly express themselves through their artistic pursuits, and their teachers, friends and parents all agree that their creative ambition and drive are nowhere near being satisfied.
— By Adam Akins
Originally published in the Nov. 16 edition of the Octagon.