A Hidden Cornerstone?

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The Role of Fine Arts at Hockaday

Courtesy, character, scholarship and athletics. Every member of the Hockaday community is familiar with the four cornerstones, the pillars that represent the values of our school and the attributes which every well-rounded student should aim to achieve. But beyond the hallways, the classrooms, and the playing fields, there is a key component of the Hockaday community that seems to be missing from this list—the arts. With over 200 students attending the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest arts festival a few weeks ago and almost twice as many girls enrolled in Hockaday fine arts classes and clubs, visual and performing arts clearly play an important role in the Hockaday community.

So why are the fine arts not a cornerstone? According to 48 of 100 students surveyed in March, the Hockaday cornerstones are a tradition dating back to 1913 and should not change. An equal number of students, however, believe that fine arts are just as important as the other four cornerstones and should be made into a cornerstone of their own. But regardless of her view on this subject, almost every Upper School girl surveyed recognized the importance and prevalence of fine arts in the Hockaday community. Fifty-two believe that arts are an integral part of Hockaday while 43 said arts play a secondary role. Only five students believed that arts are not important at Hockaday.

In this issue’s special report, The Fourcast takes a look at the fine arts, Hockaday’s “hidden cornerstone,” and the role arts play both inside and outside  the school community.

—Kristy

Beyond the Bounds: exploring fine arts outside of school

Senior Andie isn’t participating in a Hockaday fine art this year. Not the artsy type? Quite the opposite. Although not in a Hockaday class, the senior, who has taken diverse arts classes within the joint Hockaday-St. Mark’s curriculum like Acting Styles and Film Studies, engages in a multitude of arts outside of school.

Participating in fine arts outside of school serves as a way for students to have a little fun, try something new or develop their artistic passions beyond the Hockaday campus.

A piano and ballet student, Andie also plays guitar and makes crafts because “they provide a way for me to stimulate my creativity.” She explains that, “I think it’s important to choose the fine arts that you participate in because then they become something to look forward to instead of being a chore.”

It turns out that nearly half of the Upper School participates in formal fine arts out of school and more than two thirds do art on their own for fun (The Fourcast survey of 100 students).

Senior Emily recognizes the importance of exploring art. Not only can it be enjoyable, but it can help students with their other subjects. “By learning and practicing creativity in the arts,” the AP art student says, “people will then be able to bring creativity and problem solving to other aspects of their life.

Students participate in out-of-school fine arts in order to probe at talent and passion. Senior Briana acts as the chairperson of the Fine Arts Board, sings in choir, madrigals, and gospel choir, performs in the musicals and debates. But even with this busy arts schedule within school, Briana has used her limited out of school time to hone her skills, singing in the Children’s and Youth Chorus of Greater Dallas for over 8 years.

“There is only so much we can accomplish in an 80 minute class period,” she explains, “So it’s nice to have an outlet to supplement the excellent training we receive at school.”

Additionally, participation in the arts serves as a way to unwind and explore another side.

Senior Chinmayee says studying Indian classical dance and music allowed her to gain insight into her culture and heritage. The ceramics and debate student says that participating in arts outside of school “allows you to explore many different types of art… that you might not be able to do within the constraints of school day.”

Freshman Anna spends much of her time playing varsity and club tennis. The freshman, who likes to paint, says that, for athletes, taking the time to express oneself off the court can be freeing.

“There are no limits or rules and it is just very relaxing— especially when playing tennis all the time can be tiring and stressful,” she says.

As sophomore Zoya says, “It is important to participate in the fine arts even if you don’t necessarily have a talent for it, because everyone should have a creative outlet of some sort.”

Doing art for fun can be simply that—fun. “There is no pressure because art is whatever you want to make of it,” Anna says. “At Hockaday, we sometimes put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Art allows us to celebrate our talents, uniqueness, and individuality.”

—Katelyn

The Non-artsy Arts Folk

I was really horrible at ceramics and it was extremely frustrating,” recalls junior Anna. “It was kinda chill, which was fun but I feel like if I had to go into advance ceramics, where people were actually good, it would have been a nightmare.”

To avoid the nightmare, her sophomore year, Anna switched to yearbook, which she describes as “artsy-er than newspaper.”

Other schools categorize activities like publications and debate as clubs but at Hockaday they receive the full fine arts designation despite their lack of inherent “artsyness.” This can be a mixed blessing for girls who prefer to have multiple creative outlets. On the one hand, they can dedicate more time to these pursuits but often this is at the expense of taking more traditional fine arts.

Publications require girls to be creative when creating layouts but, as yearbook sophomore Kate says, “I don’t have to create anything that I would feel self conscious about or nervous about to show other people.” Students like Kate, who does not consider herself a good illustrator, painter or sculptor, can find a creative outlet that fits their talents.

Yearbook editor Sarah sums up her similar artistic identity: “I can’t draw very well. I can’t sing or dance, but I do think I’m creative.”

On the staff of the literary magazine, Vibrato, the girls’ primary focus aside from art and writing selection is layout. Sophomore Ashley describes the contributors as having “artistic visions or artistic tendencies,” some of which manifest themselves only in the design of the publication but for many girls extend to other fine arts such as studio art or photography.

Creative elements of debate are harder to find. Senior Julia, who describes herself as “not artsy at all,” enjoyed photography in the earlier years of her high school career but lost her skills as she lost time to practice. Instead of taking pictures, Julia writes “really interesting, weird cases or positions” as a creative outlet. Seeking a more concrete form of artistic expression, 10 debaters participate in orchestra.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t want a fine art, it wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in them,” but junior Natalie has taken only one year of a fine art because she doubled up in languages her freshman year and sciences her junior year.

“I do feel like music is a really big part of my life,” says Natalie, who sings and plays piano and guitar. “It’s just not something that I do at Hockaday.”

—Caroline