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‘Will Art For College’

EPISD College Art Fair  EPISD College Art Fair

EPISD College Art Fair  EPISD College Art Fair

EPISD College Art Fair  EPISD College Art Fair

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT -- Sept. 26, 2019) — The District’s top student artists this week toted their masterpieces in an effort to get noticed by art-school recruiters during the third annual EPISD College Art Fair and National Portfolio Day.

The event, which is unique to EPISD and celebrates the District’s efforts to provide opportunities to fine-arts students, attracted recruiters from schools like the University of Michigan, Minneapolis College of Art & Design, the University of Texas at Austin, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Southwest School of Art, Sul Ross State University, Laguna College of Art & Design, the University of Texas at El Paso, New Mexico State University, Chicago Art Institute and Washington University in St. Louis. 

Nearly 100 student artists toted their masterpieces to EPISD’s new Art Space & Gallery Tuesday for interviews with a dozen college recruiters at the third annual College Art Fair and National Portfolio Day. 

“Our students get to show their portfolio and their artwork and get feedback on the quality of the work that they do and how their work would fit into a specific college program,” EPISD fine arts facilitator Rosa Aguilar said. “There’s been times that our students' work is so powerful and they are so talented that our college recruiters want to offer them admissions on the spot.” 

The event is an opportunity for fine arts students to meet with recruiters for advice and guidance on applying and entering a college to study their craft. 

“Each college has really specific requirements on what it takes to apply to their schools so this allows students to not only get feedback on their work, but they also know how to tailor their portfolio to the colleges that they're interested in,” said Rebecca Giordano, admissions counselor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland. “It also helps them understand what schools offer in terms of competitive scholarships to help them afford schools that may be a little bit more expensive.” 

Transmountain Early College High School junior Avila whose work already hangs in the multimedia gallery stood in line to meet with the recruiter from New Mexico State. He’d already been to a few recruiters. 

“Art is a hobby for me and I want to get some constructive criticism and see what I can improve on,” Avila said. “I’ve gotten a lot of good tips already.” 

When asked about his piece on display in the gallery, he began to describe the technical features and how it came together – showcasing a mannequin with PVC pipe and lighting. His piece and the other pieces in the multimedia gallery generated lots of buzz among the students and recruiters. 

“It looks nice,” he smiled and nodded.

Franklin High senior Kennie Dore kept her portfolio closely as she made her way through the different classrooms to meet up with Sul Ross, UTEP and UT Austin. 

“This is a really good opportunity for us,” Dore said. “They’re telling us where we stand and giving us good pointers on what we need to work on.”

Bowie senior Briana Guzman had already visited five recruiters and with each she hoped to get some feedback on improving the colors and textures of her work. 

“I’m hoping to get inspiration to go back into class and do more,” she said. 

College recruiters offered one-on-one interviews with the students talking to them about their respective universities while critiquing and admiring the students’ portfolios, sketchbooks, sculptures and canvases.

“It's been really colorful and energetic and free, which is awesome,” Giordano said, describing the work she’s seen. “I keep writing notes of how encouraging it is to see students who are really open with their movements and their mark making and their color palette.” 

The event is designed to give EPISD students similar opportunities offered at national and regional portfolio days but without leaving the city.

“It's kind of set up like a national portfolio day, but I like that it's local and EPISD is putting it on themselves,” Giordano said. “It really creates a strong feeling of community and encouragement in the arts.”

Story by Reneé de Santos
Photos by Leonel Monroy