ISAS: The arts festival experience

Artists paint their own textiles.

Iris Chen and Max Westmark

In one room, people redesigned stones and broken bracelets into wearable jewelry; in another, dancers improvised choreography. Groups of singers with ukeleles could be spotted anywhere outdoors. At ISAS, the fine arts were utterly inescapable.

Hundreds of artists showcased their talents at the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Arts Festival at St. Mary’s Hall, San Antonio from April 7-9. Groups that attended include orchestra, jazz band, visual arts, Kantorei, and dance (Advanced Caprice and Terpsichore).  Participating schools came from Texas and surrounding locations including Mexico, Kansas, and Louisiana.

“ISAS is special because it’s a festival specifically geared towards the fine arts-obsessed,” junior Annie Ren said. “You can do so many things, from watching performances to meeting new friends to just eating popsicles.”

(Musicians perform “Falling Slowly” at Coffeehouse).

Workshops and performance adjudications helped artists expand their knowledge. Pinhole photography, textile design and miniature painting were only a few of the workshops offered.

“Some students really broke through the barriers of traditional art and created innovative pieces that I had never seen before,” freshman Ishan Kamat said.

St. John’s dancers based their performances on parts of Houston culture, such as the Rockets basketball team.

“The performances show you the cultures across schools,” Advanced Caprice sophomore Caroline Kernell said. “When we interact with other students, we get to show each other our specific skills while also being introduced to new things.”

Kantorei sang a repertoire of their work over the year, covering a wide range of styles from the Irish folk song “Loch Lomond” to gospels such as “Ain’a that Good News.” They received a standing ovation.

“I enjoy expressing myself through the arts and music, and ISAS is the perfect venue to share that,” senior Kantorei member Suman Atluri said.

(A soloist plays guitar at Coffeehouse).

At the advanced drawing workshop, instructed by Karl Frey, artists created concept pieces based on poetry. Rather than focusing on technique, Frey detailed how professional artists used sketchbooks and developed their ideas.

“It was one of the best art classes I’ve ever had. I learned that developing concepts should take the most time out of the whole process,” junior Sunnie Liu said. “For advanced artists, the right idea is more important than technique. If you want your work to be impactful, it has to have originality behind it.”

Jazz band performed the upbeat pieces “Birdland,” “Harlem Nocturne” and “Grease Wheezer.” 

“I learned so much about the people from my own school,” sophomore jazz band member Elizabeth Awad said. “Watching my friends perform was amazing for me because I never knew that these people were so talented in the fine arts.”

  The 2017 ISAS Arts Festival will be hosted by Casady School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 6-8, 2017.