Recent Grosse Pointe South graduate Cassidy Woolums stands next to her mixed media piece, “Dumpster Fire,” which is now on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Recent Grosse Pointe South graduate Cassidy Woolums stands next to her mixed media piece, “Dumpster Fire,” which is now on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Next generation of artists have work in DIA’s high school show

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 28, 2024

 “Street of Bashi” was created by University Liggett School senior — and recent graduate — Leyao Zeng.

“Street of Bashi” was created by University Liggett School senior — and recent graduate — Leyao Zeng.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTES/DETROIT — Students at schools in the Grosse Pointes are once again getting a chance to showcase their artistic skills at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The third annual Wayne County High School Art Exhibition opened June 21 and will be on view until July 21 at the DIA. Of more than 200 submissions from students at 70 high schools across the county, 81 works were chosen for the exhibition — 15 of which came from students who attend schools in the Pointes.

“This exhibition is getting better every year,” DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons said while addressing students and their families at the opening. “It really is an honor to welcome all of you here… We are committed to fostering artistic expression and providing a platform for young artists to show their work.”

DIA educators went through the submissions to select which ones would be part of the exhibition.

“Our jury panel had very difficult decisions to make,” DIA Community Engagement Programs Manager Ani Garabedian said.

Miles Fradeneck, of Grosse Pointe Park, a Grosse Pointe South High School senior who just graduated, said he created the graphite and charcoal drawing, “Marlboro Man,” for an Advanced Placement portfolio “about how us as a society view cowboys as hypermasculine.” Fradeneck’s series explores how real cowboys included many Black and indigenous people, as well as gay individuals who were fleeing persecution and discrimination.

“A lot of Hollywood movies were based on stories about Black cowboys, but they were whitewashed,” Fradeneck said.

Jack Webber, of Grosse Pointe Farms, another South senior who graduated in June, made the highly detailed large-scale drawing, “USS MacArthur Aircraft Carrier.” He said he created the drawing — which shows the inner workings and parts of a massive ship — on separate, smaller pieces of paper that he then taped together, working on it in class when he was done with his other work.

“I’ve not really taken any (art) since middle school,” said Webber, who will be studying nuclear engineering at Penn State University this fall.

South junior Felix Grousta’s digital and mixed media work, “Connected,” was chosen for the show. Grousta, of Grosse Pointe Park, used a photo of a friend as the basis for the piece, which the artist said was “definitely very experimental” and has a textural appearance.

Grousta’s mother, Chelsea Grousta, credited the teachers at South for helping their students reach their creative potential.

“They’re so good at what they do,” Chelsea Grousta said.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said that art is important to the vitality of the county. He thanked parents and teachers for supporting and nurturing the young artists in their lives.

“There’s been some great work (in the show), and the motivation to do that work comes from teachers and family,” Evans said.

Two pieces of raku pottery by South senior Rei Schoenberg, of Detroit, are on view: “Vince’s Corduroy” and “Deco-Rei.”

“I just started doing ceramics this school year,” said Schoenberg, who hopes to attend the College for Creative Studies in Detroit this fall.

Before that, she said she focused on metals and welding. While Schoenberg’s pieces at the DIA don’t reflect this, the artist said she tries to incorporate other media — especially metals — into her ceramics, and she has also welded elements to pots.

“The style I go for is industrial — trying to make things look like they came from Detroit,” Schoenberg said.

South senior Cassidy Woolums, of Grosse Pointe Park, spent roughly 200 to 300 hours, and about 150 layers of paper, to make the mixed media work, “Dumpster Fire,” for which she used scrap paper, cardboard and colored pencil. The elaborate, layered work is best appreciated in person to see the dimension and detail.

“I was playing around with working with textures and perspective,” Woolums said of “Dumpster Fire,” which started with a photo she had taken of a cluster of newspaper boxes downtown. Woolums then drew the boxes freehand, along with other images in her piece.

“The way things degrade and fall apart is kind of artistic in a way,” Woolums said.

She said she plans to study mechanical engineering this fall in college but hopes to continue her art as well.

“There’s a lot of good pieces from Grosse Pointe,” Woolums said. “The whole exhibit is amazing.”

While works were accepted from students in any high school grade level, the majority of the pieces chosen were from juniors and seniors. One of the exceptions to that was South sophomore Anna Burlaka, of Grosse Pointe Farms, whose digital photo, “Contemplations,” was shot in her neighborhood. She said she drew her influence from photographer Gregory Crewdson.

“He takes cinematic, surreal photos of psychologically themed subjects, so I emulated him,” Burlaka said. “I try to make something that people can connect with.”

Other South students with work in the show include senior Brody Yeloushan, senior Jacqueline Verhaeghe and junior Lauren Winiarski.

University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods had several students with work chosen as well: senior Leyao Zeng, senior Kelsey Beckett, senior Sana’a Brown and junior Lydia Fedewa Widick.

Evans said the county is looking at ways to possibly expand this exhibition and take it to other venues.

“We think it’s important that people see it,” Evans said.

The DIA is located at 5200 Woodward Ave.. Admission to the student art exhibition is free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. For more information, call (313) 833-7900 or visit