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The life of a high school artist can be a challenging one, balancing the seemingly endless drudgery of classes and assignments and extracurricular activities with developed and expressive creative projects. Then there’s the snide, often-asked question: Do you actually plan on studying art in college?

Transitioning into the mindset of college and professional-level artistic ability may seem like an insurmountable task to many students, who may already be questioning their ability to succeed in an increasingly competitive art world.

But accomplishing this is made easier due to Portfolio Day, an annual event that was held last Thursday at Villa Maria College. Students are given the opportunity to bring their portfolios, or bodies of work, to the college to have them reviewed and critiqued by representatives from a variety of other colleges and universities known for their dedication to the visual arts. Colleges are looking for these portfolios when considering students for admittance into their art programs.

Such feedback is vital to teen artists, as it helps them to know their strengths as well as specifying the skills they may need to work on developing.

Midge Bishop, a senior from Mount Mercy Academy, said, “I’m really interested in getting people’s advice. I would love to hear some new perspectives on what I’ve already done.”

Junior Rebecca Meszkiewicz of Holy Angels Academy adds, “I want to gain a sense of where I want to go as an artist. Things can be so overwhelming. I’m really looking for some direction.”

Many art teachers see Portfolio Day as being a valuable experience, as well.

“I think it’s a great way for students to gain insight into what colleges are looking for,” says Robin Reczek, an art teacher at Holy Angels Academy. “They can also be inspired by the work of other students here.”

Senior Maria Liegl of West Seneca East High School brought several pieces of her work, mainly including fine art pieces such as still lifes and three self-portraits, to be critiqued. “But I’m not self-centered, I swear!” she jokes. “When I was a little kid, I was drawing everywhere – even the walls! But since starting high school, art has given me an escape.”

When asked if her college plans include art, Maria says that she “really wants [it] to. But everything’s a bit vague right now. The pressure is on.”

Many of the other artists at Portfolio Day are also feeling the pressure, but with the help of this advice from college professionals about their work, they may be better equipped to face those pressures.

Jenna Kersten is a senior at Mount Mercy Academy.