Soundings staff hosts their first exhibition to fund for print magazine

March 17, 2023 — by Isabelle Wang
Courtesy of Isabelle Wang
The Soundings exhibition took place in Saratoga High’s library on March 3.
Soundings staff hosts their first exhibition to fund for print magazine

As warm late-afternoon light streamed into the school library on March 3, live music from a string quartet filled the room, setting a soothing and relaxing ambiance. Students and parents walked around to see a collection of photographs, digital art and traditional art hung on the walls with colorful ceramics and writings displayed along the tables.

Staff members for Soundings, the school’s art and literary magazine, organized the event to showcase student-produced writing and art. About 90 people attended the showcase.

  In the recent past, the staff has produced two online issues and one print edition each year. The Soundings program has been produced by students since the 1980s; in the past four years, the publication has been advised by English teacher Amy Keys and worked closely with students in her Creative Writing class. 

This year, the Soundings staff held their first ever art and literary exhibition and auction to raise money to print the end-of-year magazine. 

“The goal is to provide a forum of publication for students beyond their classroom, so they can celebrate and publish their work to inspire others,” Keys said.

Because a lot of students submit to Soundings, the staff hopes to print an ample number of copies so everyone who wants a magazine can have one. The cost of printing roughly 1,000 magazines comes up to around $4,000. 

In previous years, Soundings was able to use the profits from the school yearbook’s advertising to fund their magazine. However, after COVID-19, profits from yearbook sales dropped. So, Soundings had to find other ways to fund the magazine, apart from the $500 grant they received from the PTSO.

“The fundraising is threefold,” Keys said. “One is to raise the money but also to raise the profile of the arts, along with giving writers and artists an opportunity to share their work to publicize it for an audience that’s more than just their teachers.”

As the exhibition date approached, the Soundings staff began preparing by assigning roles and promoting the event through their Instagram page and school communications. 

Because the staff had a late start in promoting the event, two days before the auction, only two tickets were sold and the staff was tempted to postpone. 

However, after Soundings posted a preview of their arts on Instagram and assistant principal Matthew Torrens sent an announcement to the school community through email, over 30 people purchased tickets online, and many others paid at the door. 

“When we found out we had only sold two tickets, we really freaked out and thought the event would be an utter failure,” said senior Christina Chang, one of the magazine’s editors-in-chief. “Fortunately, our ticket sales were looking a lot better after the announcements were made.”

Chang also wrote an English assignment where attendees could write about their favorite works featured at the event, which incentivized many students to drop by. 

Soundings auctioned a collection of works from their winter and upcoming spring issue. A spread of poems, narratives and ceramics were displayed. 

Throughout the exhibition, artists and writers presented their works and their sources of inspiration. Along with snacking on finger food and sweets, students and parents spent the time admiring student works. 

Clipboards were placed beneath the auctioned pieces. At first, the staff tried to use painter’s tape to adhere the artwork on the board without puncturing the prints. After the artworks kept falling off, the staff ended up taping the artworks to paper, then pinning the paper to the board.

“We had all the art displayed with the artist’s statement, and people would just go up to write their name and the amount they wanted to bid for,” Soundings editor-in-chief senior Anastasia Panidis said.

Around 20 pieces were auctioned, and six pieces were sold. Chang’s “Chasing Dreams” and “Koi Fantasy” watercolor paintings were sold for $20 and $5.55, respectively. Junior Lynn Dai’s “Looking Back” charcoal drawing and “Summer Creek” oil painting; sophomore Isabelle Wang’s “Beach” pastel; and senior Yash Pai’s “Fast and Fur-ious” photograph were all auctioned for $20 each. 

In addition, the exhibition gained revenue by selling ceramics donated by students in the ceramics class. Three $15 mugs were sold, along with four other $10 miscellaneous items such as an owl figurine and feather room decor.

The staff plans to give the remaining prints to local business owners in downtown Saratoga when they request donations. Sponsors’ names will be printed on a page of the magazine following a tier system for donations: $25 to $49 for bronze, $50 to $74 for silver, $75 to $99 for gold and $100 or more for platinum. Donations will be accepted online via the SHS Webstore.

With a startup cost of $100, the Soundings exhibition raised a total of $1,928.80: $838.80 from food, auctioned works and tickets sold at the door, $240.00 from tickets sold online, $575.00 from their GoFan and $275.00 from the Webstore.

“I’m really proud of both our staff who put this exhibition together and our wonderful students who presented their creative works. I’m also thankful for all the community members who attended our event,” Chang said. “It’s our first ever art and literary exhibition — a successful start to a new tradition future staffs can carry on for years to come.” 

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