Class of 2018 Self Portraits – Pius XI Catholic High School

Portrait, portrait, portrait.

Art, art, art.

Voices, voices, voices.

These are the heterogeneous, abundantly talented, vibrant faces of the next generation.

(If video is not visible in the format you are reading, please click through to the Voices of Pearls blog site to view more portraits)

Art Kids

Art Kids is a Voices of Pearls ongoing installment featuring young people and their art. Art that is reflective of their voices and the change they want for the world. Theirs are the perfectly, perfect brilliant voices that surround us each and every day. The intent of the Art Kids profile, captured in an interview-esque style, is to pause, engage and listen to the voices of a young and dynamic generation full of hope for themselves and the world.

Meet Helen. She is 17. Helen has been an Art Kid from the time she could hold a crayon. It is my good fortune to continually watch her evolve as an artist as I have the privilege and honor of being “Mrs. Helen’s mom” – a name her life-long friend, Caroline gave me when the girls were in pre-school.

Voices of Pearls (VOP): What’s your favorite medium?

Helen: Currently I’m focusing my efforts on film. I also spend time drawing and working out ideas in my sketch book.

VOP: Why film?

Helen: In middle school I began experimenting with the video camera on the laptop – it was my dad’s old Mac so it was sort of a heavy and awkward first camera. I started making little films and commercials for made-up products with my friend Caroline. We would transform the basement into a movie theatre and screen the movies for our parents and friends. As silly as those first films were, I loved the whole process, especially the editing part.

Helen's film "Dreams" playing at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Dreams received a Silver Key.

Helen’s film “Dreams” playing at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Dreams received a Silver Key.

VOP: Today you were awarded a Gold Key and Silver Key at the statewide Scholastic Art Competition for two of your film pieces. Tell me about Emergency Exit which won the Gold Key.

Helen: Emergency Exit is a music video based on my short film about bullying called “Over the Rainbow.” Having been bullied myself, I wanted to create a film that would bring awareness to the topic and spark conversation about what I believe is an epidemic.

Bullying isn’t a small thing and shouldn’t be blown off. By making the film I hoped it would get other kids and adults to care more. To form clubs and support groups around bullying including LGBT youth. Most importantly, my hope is others will stand up and not just be a bystander to bullying.

When I started editing “Over the Rainbow” I used popular music tracks. Then I messaged an elementary school friend. Abby is a singer and songwriter. I asked Abby if she would write original music for my short film and she did!

Emergency Exit is the name of one of three songs Abby created for the film. Abby and I were so excited about our collaboration that I in-turn worked with her to do a music video of her singing Emergency Exit which features Abby and scenes from my “Over the Rainbow” film. I’m really excited that Emergency Exit was awarded the Gold Key!

VOP: I love the collaboration. I understand Abby is a rising, popular artist on ReverbNation with all three of the songs from your film.

Helen: Yes. It’s really, really amazing. I’m glad that Abby’s voice is bringing so much additional awareness to bullying.

VOP: What’s your big dream?

Helen: I’m looking at a number of different art schools that offer film. Right now I’m self-taught. Ultimately I want to make a career as a film director and editor. The editing part is important to me because that’s where the real vision and message for a film is established.

VOP: What is the change you want for the world?

Helen: For everyone to embrace their individualism while respecting others for who they are. I think making films on hard subjects like bullying and racism is a way for me to be the change I want for the world.

VOP: What advice do you have for parents?

Helen: It’s okay for kids to vent online. It’s a place where we find support and help each other. On-line we create a community of people who have been through the same things. It’s a place where we can say to each other, “I understand you – let’s try and win this together.”

VOP: What advice do you have for the next generation?

Helen: Don’t allow others words to control you. Be yourself.

VOP: What are you listening to?

Helen: I’m listening to a lot of Dubstep right now. I especially like Monster Dubstep Remix by Meg and Dia.

VOP: What closing thought would you like to share?

Helen: I know it sounds cliché. Be yourself – there’s nothing better that can come from you, than being yourself.

And Mrs. Helen’s Mom couldn’t agree more with that closing thought!

Enjoy the movie!

Art Kids

An objective of Voices of Pearls is to feature voices who are making a difference in the world. The perfectly, perfect brilliant voices that surround us each and every day. Sometimes we just have to take a pause, engage and listen to the voices that are right here, right now.

Tonight I did just that. As an almost weekly volunteer at a local high school’s art department, I am fortunate to be surrounded by the brilliant voices of the young women and men who identify as “art kids.”

Meet Maddie – a 17-year old artist who is brimming with wisdom and inspiration driven by her desire to use art as her voice in the world. I’m excited to share Maddie’s powerful voice with you and some of the topics we discussed this evening.

Maddie with her art

Maddie sitting amongst her art; her newest piece reflecting freedom of expression sits on the floor – très bien Molly!

Maddie’s most recent art piece

At the core of her newest piece (see photo) is the power of stories and how they are expressed. Maddie shared that the magazine wrapped pencils create stories about people – from healthcare workers battling Ebola, to marchers in Ferguson to celebrity. The pencils also represent how quickly important stories are erased from public consciousness and awareness. At the same time Maddie cautioned that we can become chained to our stories. She believes that these chained stories hold us back from reaching our greatest potential. Chained stories become the ones that define and prevent us from continually stretching ourselves to write our very own best life story.

Thoughts about her big dream

Maddie wants to inspire others through art while also teaching about the power of art. She shared that words can be hard. Art, however, provides the medium in which she can authentically express and represent her ideas, opinions and values.

Thoughts about the change she wants to be for the world

To inspire and encourage others to accept where they are in life, embrace it and understand that you don’t have to live in a box that someone else gives you.

Best advice

Don’t be impulsive. Think about your actions because they affect yourself and others.

What she’s listening to

Take Me to Church by Hozier

Maddie’s closing thought

I’m just a girl trying to find my way in the world.


Thank you perfectly, perfect Maddie for sharing your inspired voice. Keep on creating, keep on being you, keep on making a difference!