Da Vinci Fest blends artistic passions in community


Photo submitted by Jordan Schmidt

The Da Vinci Fest features drawings. Both the picture on the left, by junior Jordan Schmidt, and the picture on the right, by junior Lily Cichon, were submitted in the 2018 Da Vinci Fest. Both done in charcoal, Schmidt’s piece is a portrait of sophomore Abbie Garness, and Cichon’s piece portrays her parents.

Elsa Persson, Online Editor

One of the community’s most special showcases of talent is coming around once again. This festival displays incredible art and science projects made by students in the Stillwater district, for which participants strive to win the competition.

The Da Vinci Fest is an annual tradition in the Stillwater school district. The Partnership Plan, the educational fund serving the Stillwater school district, runs the festival. With this year’s date on Jan. 5, students from fourth to twelfth grade congregated at Stillwater Area High School to showcase their submitted art and science works. There are three main sections: Art, Science, and a completely new section, Upcycling.

The Da Vinci Fest is a laid back, yet still competitive arts and science festival. Participants have described it as a welcoming environment. Though students are drawn to the festival for reasons such as its impact on a high school transcript, it is well known for its wide variety of talents showcased.

“After you see how everything works, and see what they do with how they present the art and how they present the projects, it feels very approachable,” junior Bella Anderson said.

One of the Da Vinci Fest sections is the art section. As one of the more popular sections of the contest, students submit works in a wide variety of mediums, including charcoal, prints, sculpture and much more. Performing arts, like ballet and improv, are showcased additionally.

At the Da Vinci Fest, “a lot of peoples’ interests come into one. People showcase what they’re most interested in… it’s not really something you see a lot,” senior Mia Pariseau said.

Another section of the Da Vinci Fest is the science section. Participants create their own science experiments and present their findings at the festival. Science projects fall into categories such as astronomy, social sciences, engineering and so much more.

As a submission in the science fair, “I tested the chemical ethanol on fruit to see how it ripens more quickly,” junior Ryan Ciminski said.

A lot of peoples’ interests come into one. People showcase what they’re most interested in… it’s not really something you see a lot.”

— Mia Pariseau

The Upcycling Fair is a brand new addition to the Da Vinci Fest. Upcycling is defined as taking used objects, waste or found materials and making a new product with it. The submissions in this section will be divided into two categories: artistic upcycling projects and usable upcycling projects.

Since it is such a new part of the Da Vinci Fest, even students with Partnership Plan board members as family members know little about the project, Anderson said.

Works in the Art Fair, Science Fair, and Upcycling Fair are all critiqued by a set of three judges. These judges observe the projects individually while the artist or scientist explains the work and answers their questions.

“You just talk about your art and just describe why you decided to pick this specific thing, what it really means to you, and stuff like that,” junior Jordan Schmidt said.

Those who win the competition all show a similar standard of passion through their work. Technical skill is highly important in terms of succeeding, but personal connection and feeling towards the work are even more significant.

“I think the thing they look for is a personal connection to the piece, and that you can speak a lot to what it means to you and why you made it… a lot of people who have won have shown a lot of hard work, that they’ve put a lot of effort into a piece, and that they had some sort of attachment to the subject matter,” Anderson said.

Some exhibitions shown at the Da Vinci Fest are merely showcases and are not judged for competition. This includes a wide range of performances, such as improv by the Jockeys of Comedy, ballet by Belle Ballet, and science demonstrations by the 3M Wizards. Classes, such as Astronomy with Ben Straka, will also work together on projects for the Da Vinci Fest. The Astronomy class is currently planning on presenting StarLab, a constellation storytelling exhibit inside an inflated dome inside the school building.

Working with classmates rather than alone on the StarLab project is interesting because, “people tell stories in different ways, so you get different perspectives,” Pariseau said.

The Da Vinci Fest plays a huge role in community engagement. Residents of Stillwater value that students are able to come together and show the talent and intelligence within the community.

It is crucial to involve people in the community with arts and STEM, Ciminski said.

The Da Vinci Fest is something Stillwater is proud to call their own. The unique arts festival shows the excellence of the youth in the community and reinforces the wide variety of talents and passions that are practiced. In the festival, “a lot of people’s interests come into one. People showcase what they’re most interested in… which is not really something you see a lot,” Pariseau said.