BILLINGS – Imagine working on a school project for 24 hours straight.
Now imagine doing this over Christmas break.
That is exactly what a group of Billings Central High School art students did last December.
“Students basically lock themselves in the high school for Christmas break over 24 hours and the challenge is that they have to create an art piece that is worthy to hang in an art gallery,” said Rudi Marten of Clark Marten Photography.
Marten says he originally saw the idea for the challenge being used with photographers. He wanted to share the idea with the students.
Around 40 students were involved, as well as staff to supervise and provide guidance. The lockdown teaches time management, planning, and teamwork.
“It was definitely very stressful at first, doing everything, but I was very proud of it when I got done,” Central Senior Claire Haugen said. This was her first year participating.
In between working on their art, there was fun, food, music, and games.
“It’s hard for students to express their thoughts and their feelings, but if they can get it all out on a canvas they’re able to bring that light and that energy to the world,” art teacher Lisa Fine said.
Now they have a chance to share that energy at an art gallery style Gala held at the Clark Marten studio.
“What we do is we have them all walk out with their piece to reveal as a grand opening, and everyone is standing in the gallery clapping as they walk in and they present this piece,” Marten said.
All of the other Clark Marten art and photographs will be taken down from the walls, making the night entirely about the students.
Students were paired with a videographer who caught all of the projects in time-lapse. At the gallery, the videos will be displayed next to each piece, showing the process from beginning to end.
“When a complete stranger comes up and asks them about their piece, all of the sudden they go from being a shy and timid high school artist to feeling like an accomplished professional,” Fine said.
Students will get to dress up and meet members of their community while talking about their work.
“Giving us a chance for us to be in the spotlight, pretend you’re in a gallery and it’s your big debut. And it’s just an amazing experience,” Central Senior Carter Song said.
Song has participated each year it has been available. He enjoys painting Star Wars pieces because he says they are relatable.
The gala is a night many students note as their favorite part of the school year.
“To see and realize and have the confidence that if art is what they want to continue with, they can,” Marten said, “It is a career that many people have done great things with and influenced our world with. More than anything I just want to give the kids a voice, that this is who I am, this is what I do.”
This is a chance to purchase some one-of-a-kind artwork. The event takes place Friday at the Clark Marten Studio at 6:30 p.m.as is free to the public.
Reporting by Jenny Fick for MTN News