Student Spotlight: Phoebe Nichols

Thursday, April 7th, 2016
One of the greatest aspects of Chatham High School is its fantastic visual and performing arts programs. From freshmen year students have the ability to pursue their interests in these fields with access to top-notch equipment and under the direction of encouraging mentors. CHS is lucky to have two extremely talented artists, Phoebe Nichols and Sean McCarty, who have earned top accolades in their respective fields of art.

Phoebe Nichols is a senior at CHS with a great passion for visual art. As a budding artist she has balanced her passion with her rigorous course load, also earning the title of Merit Scholar and being accepted into NHS and NAHS. Recently, I chatted with her about her award-winning portfolio and her experience as a budding artist.

Lizzie Harrison: What is a Governor's Award and how are the winners selected?
Phoeb Nichols: Actually, people keep saying that this is a Governor's Award when I think its official title is the Art Administrators of New Jersey Student Achievement Award—but it will be presented at the Governor's Awards Ceremony. This award in particular was an award chosen from the merit winners picked at the Emerging Artists exhibit here by the Art Administrators of New Jersey earlier this year.

LH: What work did you have to put in to win this esteemed prize?
PN: To win this prize, I had to pick a painting to submit to the Emerging Artists show, and since I was lucky enough to win a merit award there, I was then given the opportunity to submit a portfolio of ten pieces of art.

LH: How did you feel about having your portfolio win this award?
PN: I'm so honored to have been selected for this award. There are so many talented artists in New Jersey, and the Art Administrators Emerging Artists Show that preceded the selection of the award was an amazing opportunity to see student work.

LH: Did anyone help or mentor you as you have pursued your passion in art?
PN: I've been taking art classes since I was a freshman at CHS—I've been lucky enough to have help from Mrs. Hull, Ms. Spadaro, and Mr. Hreha over the years. Most recently Mr. Hreha has helped me develop my portfolio for the AP exam in studio art.

LH: You are also a Merit Scholar and a varsity athlete. How do you find time to balance all of these things with being a teenager?
PN: I think pretty much everyone at CHS operates in a constant state of sleep deprivation. (ha) To be honest, unfortunately, my ability to pursue art suffers during the school year. I always finish a lot more art during the summer. The weekend is also a good time to get more art finished.

LH: What do you love the most about art/ What does it mean to you?
PN: Being able to take art classes in school is something that I love, because it's the one class I take that's not about competition or grades. Art allows students to think about themselves and the world around them in ways that are not always possible in other areas of study—art can be whatever you want it to be.

LH: Where do you see yourself post-college?
PN: I have no idea. Hopefully I will still be making art!

LH: Are you considering pursuing art in college or as a career?
PN: I am planning on double majoring--I think that I definitely want to get a degree in art. I don't know what I will end up doing as a career yet. though.

LH: What is your favorite piece of visual art?
PN: I love John Singer Sargent's Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.

LH:  What is your favorite song?
PN: This is another very hard question. Maybe "Marz" by John Grant or "Eugene" by Sufjan Stevens, right now.

LH:  What has been your favorite class at CHS and why?
PN: Pre-AP Studio Art! It's great because it's an art class, and it's not quite as stressful as AP Art because you're not in charge of 12 portfolio pieces.