Easygoing, stylish and wise are some of the many words that best describe New Paltz High School senior Carolyn Reeves. Whether she is shocking others with her bold hair colors and leopard- print clothing, eye-catching art pieces, or her clever yet intelligent thoughts and sense of humor, Reeves is always putting herself out there.
Reeves has been taking art classes ever since she could, starting around age four. In second grade she began taking formal fine arts classes at the New Paltz Art Studio with Lisa Chason. She refined her technical skills for almost a decade with an equal balance of creative freedom.
“It’s always something that I’ve done passively but passionately,” says Reeves. “It never occurred to be that stopping was an option because it became a part of me.”
Her artistic career brought her to AP Studio Art at NPHS, which if you ask anyone that is enrolled in it, is no joke. The class is extremely demanding of the students’ time and energy as a professional quality piece is due at the end of every week. Although this class is undoubtedly intense, it has allowed Reeves to grow as an artist, as well as secure her style.
“Although it is formal painting, it presents more like graphic design,” comments Reeves on her style. “A lot of people like what I do, which has been really encouraging, and it’s different from what my other classmates are doing.”
Reeves’ concentration for her AP Studio Art class is a culmination of her experiences as a teenager as well as her observations on the world around her, titled American Youth Culture: Reflections and Influences.
“It’s very personal, because obviously I am part of the American youth culture,” says Reeves. “I find that the pieces that I make are very much influenced by the week that I had, whether that be personal experiences, things I have learned in my classes or even a post on Twitter.”
This type of self-reflection through art has allowed Reeves necessary time to think back and process all that she has seen and done throughout the week. Reeves enjoys taking a satirical approach to the issues that she tackles, which leaves a presumed lightness to sometimes heavy issues and makes her work stand out from others.
Another large part of Reeves’ high school career has been her involvement in the Science Research class, a three-year exploratory class that gives her college credit through SUNY Albany. For the final project of her cumulative research over the past three years, Reeves is focusing on risk taking in adolescence, and whether or not observation from different age groups changes that behavior.
Although this has been a lengthy time commitment for Reeves, her outward perspective and ability to capture the bigger idea of things has helped her through not only this project, but also in life.
“I think I have a very outward perspective,” says Reeves confidently. “The way that I perceive and analyze the world around me is through an abstract perspective. I always focus on the big picture idea of things.”
Reeves is the only senior that has been enrolled in the class for the full three years, which is a testament to her dedication to the topic and her research. Although the work has been intense and at some times grueling, it has been just as rewarding. Reeves is greatly looking forward to her presentation of her research and findings at the annual high school symposium on May 29.
“Since my project required human participants, I had to approach a lot of people to get involved with the study, and there were a lot of moving parts,” says Reeves excitedly. “Now I have all my data, and I just have to analyze it. It’s really exciting looking at all my work as numbers on a spreadsheet!”
Reeves will be attending SUNY Albany in the fall, she is currently interested in studying international relations and philosophy. On her recent trip to Nepal with The Maya Gold Foundation, Reeves was not only able to leave her mark as an artist by painting a mural at the Ganesh Primary School in Bhaktapur, but was also able to visit the U.S. Embassy and see the inner workings of the United States government in a foreign country, making her passion “seem like something tangible.”
“I’ve been in a bubble of living in the United States and then an even smaller bubble of New Paltz,” says Reeves. “Getting a completely new perspective is really important to me.”
Moving forward, Reeves is open to taking the road less traveled, as she is always up for a bit of a challenge. For Reeves, the adventure of life doesn’t come from taking the easy way out, it’s all what you make of it.
“I don’t want to live on the beaten path,” says Reeves smiling. “I’m looking forward to seeing what I create for myself.”
Read the New Paltz Times in print each week for more student profiles.