North Shore student’s art hits one very big New York screen
John Dolan's "From Above"
Updated: March 24, 2012 8:38AM
Robert Dolan is very emphatic about his son John’s artistic talent. “He doesn’t get it from me,” the Wilmette resident joked last week. “But he’s always been creative, from the time he was a little boy, with drawings all over the place and building things with Legos.”
His father isn’t the only person to think highly of John Dolan’s work. A painting by Dolan, an eighth-grade student at Wilmette Junior High School whose family formerly hailed from Winnetka, is getting some very high-profile exposure in New York City next week.
Dolan, 13, is one of only 500 art students nationwide to have their pieces featured at the Big Screen Plaza on the Avenue of the Americas in downtown Manhattan. His art will be part of a moving collage of student work, which will show March 1-4 during the National Art Education Association annual convention in New York.
According to Paige Lunde, his art teacher at WJHS, Dolan’s piece, “From Above” will actually be featured twice, in a 20-second clip that is scheduled to air on the 30’ by 16’ foot screen March 2 and March 3, at 7:53 p.m. each day.
“I’m super excited about this experience for John,” she said earlier this month.
Dolan created his work in class under Lunde’s tutelage. She asked her students to work without relying on color as they created pieces that focused on duality, including that of the outside physical world, and their own inner emotional world.
Students learned new techniques and experimented with composition, and then applied some of those techniques to their work. They also collaborated, taking pictures of each other that were subsequently integrated into each teen’s final artwork
“From Above” is an exercise in strong vertical lines in black and white. It radiates a sense of luminous transparency; a central column of light encompasses Dolan’s self-portrait. His line drawing of himself shows a young man peering upward, hands in his pockets, apparently curious but unafraid of what he might see above him.
Lunde was impressed enough with “From Above” to enter it as a possible Big Screen Plaza clip, and was delighted that his effort was chosen as part of the presentation.
“The strength of his painting is the strong composition and contract. The use of these two elements draw the viewer to focus on his expression of confidence; perfect for this exhibit!”
Dolan said last week that he, too, was excited at the prospect of thousands of passers-by having the chance to view “From Above.”
He wanted his picture to show how confident he was, he said, and he wanting to experiment with color blending techniques he had just learned, “and I think it turned out pretty well.”
He said he was shocked, but proud, that so many people liked what he created.
“Mostly they thought it was cool,” he said.
Although he would like to travel to New York to see his self-portrait flash across the screen, his busy schedule won’t allow him to. He has a lacrosse tournament to play in – he’s a member of the North Shore Lacrosse Club’s 8th grade team – as well as lacrosse and basketball practice.
(In addition to his love of art, Dolan is a member of Winnetka’s Boy Scout Troop 20 and is working on his Eagle Scout project. He water skis, enjoys other water-based athletics, and holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is also looking forward to the fall, when he enters New Trier High School as a freshman.)
At least one viewer of Dolan’s work thought “From Above” was considerably more than cool. His mother Patricia cried when she first saw an image of the painting, he said.
“It was something extraordinary,” Patricia Dolan acknowledged last week. “I was moved by more than just the art, I was moved by the spiritual message it was sending. It was a positive message of confidence, and so often you will see very good art that is dark. This was so positive.”