Art at Hackley: Students on the Hilltop with a Passion for the Arts.


Credit: Allison Chin

One of Allison Chin’s art pieces. It is titled “Midas” and was drawn digitally.

On the Hilltop, students are given the opportunity to pursue various fields of art by taking different classes. From visual arts to performing arts, to literature courses, Hackley has created a supportive environment for aspiring artists. Students Alex Elwell, Allison Chin, and Alex Booth are prime examples of students who have used Hackley courses to further their artistic careers.
Senior Alex Elwell has been exposed to poetry for as long as she can remember. She inherited her passion for poetry from both her father and grandfather but recently became more drawn to it in her adolescence.
“It’s such an incredible way of expressing yourself,” she said.
Her favorite aspect of writing poetry is being able to express herself without needing an explanation. She believes that there is no right or wrong way to write poetry; from just a few words to long narratives, poetry has a huge spectrum. Although she loves both reading and writing poetry, she prefers writing poetry as it provides a way to handle her thoughts. When it comes to reading poetry, her favorite authors are Patricia Lockwood and Carolyn Forché.
In addition to writing poetry, Alex also plays the electric bass. She describes herself as a “music fanatic.” She believes that music and poetry go hand in hand since music drives her motivation to write poetry. Also, both provide her with ways to cope and help her analyze herself. When it comes to her own poems, she mostly writes about her own experiences and her emotions, specifically how she is changing as a person. Alex also likes to combine both her taste in music and poetry by writing about music and musical history.
From submitting to the Vision to having an independent study in English, Elwell has brought her love for verse to the Hilltop in many ways. Although she believes it is very difficult to tap into the full extent of poetry in a classroom setting, she claims that Hackley does a good job. With its independent study courses available to anyone, Hackley provides a welcoming environment for all poetry writers.

Credit: Alex Elwell
One of Alex’s many poems. This one is titled “the night” and can be found in this year’s edition of The Vision.

Junior Allison Chin has always loved art. Growing up she would write stories with her sister and incorporate drawings, but going into seventh grade was when she became more serious about it. She uses a variety of mediums, pencil, and digital art being her main focus, and she is interested in trying out painting. Digital art has become her favorite type since she’s the most comfortable with it. When asked what her favorite aspect of art is, she responded with, “it lets me get myself out of my head.” Whenever she is stressed, she resorts to drawing to let some steam off. She thoroughly enjoys the process of getting things out of her head and onto the paper.
Across numerous pieces she’s made, a common theme is portraits. Alongside this theme, she also works to capture people’s emotions in her artwork. Allison says that when it comes to Hackley supporting artists, she appreciates the wide range of art classes offered to students. However, she thinks that the prerequisites to AP Art being majors make it harder for many students to achieve the AP level since majors take up a lot of time in the schedule that not everyone has. She has also submitted her work to the Vision. She loves to see other people’s art as well, and her favorite artist is John Singer Sargent.
Sophomore Alex Booth has participated in school plays since Lower School, but starting in 5th grade he began getting more involved in them. Once he began 7th grade, his music major took up a lot of his time, preventing him from engaging in plays. Now that he is in the Upper School, he takes musical theater where he practices monologues and singing. Although he claims to not be a good singer, he thinks that musical theater is more fun.
He loves musical theater because “you can sort of be whatever you want,” and the fact that you can transform into a new character while you are still yourself.

Credit: Bettie-Ann Candelora
Alex Booth in character in the play “Murderous Crossing.” Being in this play has been his favorite so far.

Last year when he participated in the “Murderous Crossing” play, he played a chaotic, funny character. This play was his favorite so far. They spent all year working on it and it became an amazing production. He has also engaged in creating his own productions, specifically shorts movies. He creates different characters and even acts them all out and edits these films himself.

Regarding Hackley’s contribution to the performing arts department, Alex says he feels the support and appreciation. In his musical theater class taught by Bettie-Ann Candelora, the Director of Performing Art, he feels a sense of community where everyone supports each other since it is such a small class. In addition to this class, he feels the support during plays because it is clear the audience goes because they enjoy it.
Ales’s plans for the future include the possibility of pursuing professional acting. Although he sometimes doubts his acting skills, he still finds it fun and interesting. On the other hand, he could see himself becoming a director or producer.