“What a great celebration for art”

Recognizing BVH students’ photography at exhibits


Edwin Lim

Photography, AP 2D art and design teacher Ed Lim attends every exhibit his students work is displayed in. He shares that there are anywhere from 80 to 100 students at the YAMS.

Bonita Vista High (BVH) is home to many creative students that have cultivated their artistic skills through different mediums, one of them being photography. Luckily for them, there are plenty of opportunities available to put them to good use at contests. For example, the annual Youth Art Month San Diego (YAMSD) exhibition hosted by the California Art Educators Association (CAEA), chose five finalists from BVH to display their photography at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. 

As of recently, the Young Art Exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art (YAESDM) also displayed works from three BVH students available until May 7. Photography, AP 2D art and design teacher, Ed. Lim picks which of his students’ work would be submitted to various competitions over the past years. 

“Absolutely I picked the pictures that were submitted. It is a class process and it is how I teach fine art,” Lim said. “Fine art is art [that is] good enough for a museum, which goes through a process. The six kids who [had photos that] were the most ‘fine art’ get into the exhibition.”

AP 2D art photography student and sophomore Jasmine Vardeleon has already started off her first year strongly by being one of the students picked to display their photo. She describes the process behind her work that is being displayed at the San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA).

“I took the [Field of] roses photo in Tokyo, it was at a botanical garden, and then I took a photo of my grandpa on my phone using the double exposure effect and I combined the two together.” Vardeleon said.

Moreover, as the YAMSD contest carried on, finalist and senior Natalie Gonzalez won second place for her work: “American COVID Gothic”. Gonzalez describes what inspired her work and her favorite part about the process of making it.

“My picture is called American COVID Gothic and it represents my experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. I [had] all my friends [in my photo], everyone was masked up and holding cleaning supplies just to demonstrate that this was a collective experience,” Gonzalez said.

Although Gonzalez is not in Lim’s photography class anymore, he still submits students’ work that may not be in his class. Similarly, finalist and senior Jenna Broas is not Lim’s student anymore but continues to submit her work to contests. She describes what she captured with her work titled “Bibingka.”

“The picture I took was a photo of my pet tortoise and it is named Bibingka after a Filipino dessert. She was a baby at that time. I think it was a year ago that I took that photo. She was really small and that was the first day we got her so I took a picture,” Broas said. “It’s been one of my favorite photos to enter into different competitions.”

Broas describes that she has entered several competitions before. She submitted two pictures at the San Diego County Fair and won second place with both. Broas describes the steps she takes in order to create such successful art. 

“When I edit my photos I typically edit in a way that can evoke emotion. If it’s a photo of happy people, then it’s going to be a bright photo. For this photo it had lots of shapes and shadows, so Mr. Lim said that I should make it black and white,” Broas said.

To be in an art exhibition is not normal, it’s extraordinary. It heightens [students’] high school experience. It serves as a motivation for everybody else, like, ‘If her artwork can make the YAM Southern California Exhibit then I should aspire to do that as well.’

— Edwin Lim

In addition, Gonzalez also has a process to make sure her photos capture the message she wishes to portray. She plays around with color and structure and creates a story board that explains the collective experience people faced during the COVID-19 pandemic in her specific piece of work.

“When I edited my photos it had a few different trials. When I looked at all the photos I tried to find a good collage to set up so it [would] neatly organize what I was trying to represent. After that, I tried messing with the colors to see what was best,” Gonzalez said. “I like the way the red stood out, I feel like red is a very symbolic color and in that sense it can mean fear. I thought that represented part of the experience since we were forced to be fearful and I think the black and white signifies the intensity of our [people in the pandemic] experiences.” 

Lim adds that he has to adapt to circumstances and pushes phone photography as they are more advanced and better to work with than the older computers available in his classroom. He believes that they are “powerful tools for creating art” and are what created the masterpieces displayed at YAMSD and YAESDM. Furthermore, Lim explains why he chooses to submit work to competitions and notes his favorite part about doing it. 

“To be in an art exhibition is not normal, it’s extraordinary. It heightens [students’] high school experience,” Lim said. “It serves as a motivation for everybody else, like, ‘If her artwork can make the YAM Southern California Exhibit then I should aspire to do that as well.”’

Vardeleon states that being part of Lim’s class “inspires” her and is pleased since her work is receiving attention. She explains how she feels about having this opportunity and the reactions she’s received from it. 

“It feels very good to be in [Lim’s] class knowing my photo is there [at the YAESDM] and I’m very happy that it’s [being] recognized and that I’m recognized,” Vardeleon said. [My parents] were very proud of me and I just remember their reaction that they were screaming in joy.”

Additionally, Lim’s efforts don’t go unrecognized by his former students. Gonzalez states the confidence she has gotten as a result of Lim’s encouragement and what this accomplishment has helped her achieve.

“I’m really grateful that [Lim] sees the talent and that he saw it enough in my [photo] to be able to showcase it,” Gonzalez said. “I wouldn’t consider myself much of a photographer, I think I have very minimal skills so I was shocked [that I won second place.] My parents were also very supportive and very happy of my accomplishment.”

Similarly, as Lim has been supportive with his students, he has been able to see their success first hand. He explains that simply seeing a smile on teachers and students’ faces at exhibits shows that he has succeeded in creating good results among his students.  

“I was overjoyed, I like to push students to do their best creatively and result in good things,” Lim said. “I’m just overjoyed that these high school kids get the unique experiences here and say, ‘Remember back in high school I had my work in a museum?’ That’s a proud thing to be able to say.”