Artists talk practicalities during Los Altos High Art Week

Courtesy of Brandon Hong
A semester’s worth of student work is currently on display at Los Altos High School’s library, and photography students are documenting the show – see more of their work at

Alumni returned to Los Altos High School for the annual Art Week last week to describe the nuts and bolts of making a living while making art.

An interior designer talked business and industry, an engineer for the city of Palo Alto described the engineering behind design work and a visual-effects artist brought a burst of Hollywood to the stage in Eagle Theater. The school’s art teachers invited the guests to focus on real-life applications for art as part of a weeklong event examining art in the real world.

Painter Jacqueline Norheim, a Los Altos High alumna, described the difficulties of balancing the need to make a living with a love for working in the world of fine art and described frankly how she hasn’t yet made the two completely overlap.

Supported by training in graphic design, Norheim designs logos, campaigns and motion graphics for advertising agencies and companies. She also creates vast experimental oil paintings and has exhibited around the United States.

“I do graphic design for money and having a job and that kind of thing, and I do fine art on the side,” she told students. “I think if you’re really dedicated to what you’re making, you just kind of find a way.”

Throughout the week, a community art installation explored the social uses for art and visual thinking. For “Thoughts, Reflections and Healing,” the libraryconference room’s walls became a patchwork of papers, using images, shapes and words to give visual form to the question of “injuries that need healing.” Participants are invited to collaborate on giving thoughts form and adding elements to the walls.

The show is a home for “whatever’s on their mind – worries and concerns – that they can’t talk about with other people,” Los Altos High art teacher Christine An explained.

“The visual communication, with words and images, is another layer of communication,” she said.

The installation aims to work its art on viewers, laying out a goal in its notes: “The space is transformed into a place of personal reflection of the participants. It prompts a new perspective of thought. It is this change in thoughts that triggers healing.”

Across the hallway, the semester’s student art, more than 500 recent works, are on exhibition.

Both shows are on display in the school’s library 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday.

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