Northeast Tarrant

Students search for self-expression and identity through art

For many students, high school is a time of struggling with personal identity.

Nearly two dozen Grapevine High School students have not only tackled that subject through art, but are putting those revelations on display.

Their collection — Who am I: Images of Personal Identity — can be seen through Nov. 3 at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau headquarters at 636 S. Main St.

Featuring the works of 21 Grapevine High School Advanced Placement Drawing and 2-D Design students, the exhibit showcases each artist’s original work representing his or her personal identity, perspective and experiences.

According to their teacher, Jeffrey Nisbet, the theme “is a product of my continuing research and understanding of where fine arts education is moving towards in the 21st century.”

“I am convinced that theme-based arts education creates an avenue for more powerful and meaningful artwork,” Nisbet said. “With themes, students are able to investigate their experiences and voices uniquely and independently. As a product, the breadth of work seen in Who Am I: Images of Personal Identity shows a variety of materials, imagery, processes and inspirations, creating truly dynamic and impactful artwork.”

Nisbet was so inspired by his students over the years that this year he sought a bigger stage to showcase their work.

He began pursuing his belief that “there should certainly be a connection between the local arts community and the high school.”

He met with the city’s museum curator, Lynn Rushton, and spoke about a collaboration between his students and the city’s exhibition space at the convention and visitors bureau, where high-profile venues are offered throughout the year.

“Long story short, in the summer I presented the theme of personal identity for a show in the fall,” Nisbet said. “And here we are celebrating excellent student work.”

An opening reception was held Saturday at the bureau’s Grand Gallery, which was attended by the artists, fellow students, families and other supporters.

Among those being showcased was Isaiah Kinzey, a senior, who drew upon his life experiences for his art. “My Brother Keeper” features him and his best friend, Tim, in a pencil and ink work of two playing cards entitled “2 Young Kings,” which portrays the theme of “one and the same.”

“I felt this best illustrates my identity of being my own person but also most of me is him,” he said.

Kinzey was eight when he and his mother left New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina, an event that he said changed his entire outlook on life.

“If Katrina never happened, I would be a completely different person — I don’t know where I’d be,” Kinzey said.

With a move to the area, this is Kinzey’s first year at Grapevine High School.

Kinzey said after high school, he wants to study graphic design or advertising. His dream job would be to work for Disney.

Asked what he thinks art is, the teenager said, “Art is what you see as an individual person. It is what you see and other people don’t. Art is the head of a mad man, nothing makes sense, but at the same time it does. Sometimes you don’t know what you are drawing, but you do it. Art is the best way to say, ‘Forget reality.’ ”

His fellow students in the show are Andi Risk, Brittney Phan, Cara Kelley, Catherine Kozuch, Catherine Lu, Emily Buckland, Emily Edwards, Erin Branscum, Frankie Juarez, Hawley Young, Jacqueline Kirby, Jennifer Avila, Katelyn Noble, Kaylee Galvan, Kelsie Baldwin, Kris Amundsen, Madeleine McCullough, Megan O'Shea, Monica Hilburn and Olivia Welch.

This is Nisbet’s fourth year teaching at his alma mater. He teaches AP Art History, AP Drawing, AP 2-D Design, PAP Art History and Drawing II.

When it comes to creating art, Nisbit said there is no better way of expression.

“I think Pablo Picasso said it best — ‘Action is the foundational key to all success,’ ” Nisbet said. “Through fine arts education, students are engaged in actively pursuing, researching, processing and solving visual and abstract problems. My students must think, speak and act for themselves because ownership is the true path to learning.”

The free exhibit is open 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

For information about this and other Grapevine’s events, visit or call 817-410-3185.