Channel Islands Maritime Museum Hosts Student Art Exhibit

By Tim Pompey

There’s something about people gathering for an art exhibit that translates into high energy. When it’s a student exhibition, that energy kicks up a notch. Proud students. Proud parents. Proud teachers. A proud museum and school district.

The opening reception on Thursday, April 6 for the 24th Annual High School Art Exhibit hosted by the Oxnard Union High School District, in conjunction with Oxnard’s Channel Islands Maritime Museum (CIMM), presented works of art culled by a select jury panel from dozens of high school student submissions.

The museum, which hosts some of the finest maritime art and ship modeling in the world, was filled with every conceivable style of art—student photography, visual arts, ceramics, mixed media, even a palm frond with puff/fabric paint.

One thing is clear from a first viewing. These aren’t children’s finger paintings and cute stick figures of mom and dad. These students are talented. You can foresee something noteworthy in their future.

For instance, Jessica Antimo, who submitted “The Weeping Woman II,” (acrylic on cardboard relief). Antimo is a senior at Pacifica High School. Her work is a copy of an original oil painting by Pablo Picasso; hence the ‘II’ in “Weeping Woman.”

While Picasso’s piece was two-dimensional, Antimo made here work pop by adding cardboard relief and extra layers. She tried to make the colors and the sadness in her picture more vibrant.

“It is that sadness that’s sometimes beautiful because of what he did and all the colors and emotions that come with sadness,” she explained. “It’s really colorful because there’s more than one layer. It’s a multitude of things that you can feel when you’re weeping.”

Jessica Antimo, “The Weeping Woman II,” (acrylic on cardboard relief)

Dr. Penelope DeLeon, Superintendent for the Oxnard Union High School District, thinks this artistic partnership between the museum and the school district is vital for students’ creativity and self-expression.

“Anytime we can display and demonstrate our talented and brilliant students and our incredible art teachers,” she said, “anytime we have that opportunity, it’s a benefit for our kids.”

She sees this as not only a beautiful exhibit, but a practical display of real world art experience: “This gives them real life experience, because when you become an artist, it’s about displaying your work. It’s about getting into a gallery, and this gives them that opportunity.”

For DeLeon, education and art are vitally intertwined. “Art is really tied into everything,” she remarked. “There’s so much curriculum where you could bring in art. Art is tied to history. Art is science. Look how many people write about art. To me, art is such a manifestation of so many different kinds of content and curriculum.”

For Peter Crabbe, Executive Director of the Channel Islands Maritime Museum, art is about connecting to the past and the artistic heritage that has influenced today’s students.

“The connection between our museum and this student exhibit is the history of those things and what high school children are doing today,” he reflected. “There’s so much connection between those things, plus the enthusiasm they have and the enthusiasm we’ve had in the past for the arts.”

Art is also very personal, a concrete message provided by the deeper self. This is particularly true for Kristine Havens, a junior at Rio Mesa High School, who submitted “Hidden,” (photography & digital media).

Kristine Havens, “Hidden,” (photography/digital media)

“I wanted to create awareness for mental illnesses,” she stated, “because I have one, and I understand how hard it can be, so in doing this piece, I just thought it conveyed all the emotions that I felt day to day, and people often don’t see.”

Her father, Wade Havens, is proud that his daughter has chosen to display her work. “It makes me proud because I think it’s important for her to participate,” he said.

Her interest in photography is something he admits is innate to her creative personality. “She’s done little things at home like her drawings and we’ve encouraged her on those things,” he said.

As for her pursuit of photography, he acknowledges that this is something she has chosen for herself. “You know I really don’t know where this comes from,” he admitted. “I just think that she thinks it’s cool. She asked us to buy her a camera a couple of years ago, so we bought her a camera and she just takes pictures.”

Kristal Wolf, the art department chair at Rancho Campagna High School, talks about the importance of art to her students. “Art is a means of expression for a lot of kids. I think the students need a vehicle to express their ideas,” she said.

Her job is to acquaint them with various forms of artistic expression and to help them develop the technique and the creativity that lie behind art. “There’s definitely the part of instruction behind ‘seeing,’” Wolf declared. “I place a pretty big emphasis on learning to see things, not the way your mind thinks you see them, but to focus on understanding and to leave room for their mind to be that teacher when they see.”

The juried winners for this year’s exhibition were:


  1. Samantha Hamilton, “Blind Bird,” Adolfo Camarillo High School, 11th Grade
  2. Ellyzel Ramirez, “Walk Through Main Street,” Rio Mesa High School, 11th Grade
  3. Abigail Mendiata, “Star Flower,” Hueneme High School, 11th Grade


  1. Destini Mejia, “Enlightened One,” Adolfo Camarillo High School, 12th Grade
  2. Emilee Sidbeck, “Confusion,” Rancho Campana High School, 10th Grade
  3. Sara Esparza, “On Letting Go,” Pacifica High School, 12th Grade

Emilee Sidback, “Confusion (acrylic painting)


  1. Brittney Orozeo, “Scream,” Hueneme High School, 12th Grade
  2. Lynn Abagatnan, “Adrian,” Channel Islands High School, 10th Grade
  3. Natalie Elenes, “Concrete Jungle,” Rancho Campana High School, 9th Grade


  1. Gianne Gutierrez, “Speak Your Mind,” Adolfo Camarillo High School, 12th Grade
  2. Daniel Del Toro, “Wooden Dreams,” Rancho Campana High School, 9th Grade
  3. Madeline Williams, “Honey Ant,” Oxnard High School, 11th Grade


Amber Marron, “Radiation 99,” Oxnard High School, 12th Grade

Katie Crouse, Channels Island Maritime Museum Project Manager, helped coordinate the art exhibit. She reflected on the reasons why she enjoys hosting this exhibit.

“As an artist myself,” she said, “I was extremely into art in high school, and it got me through high school. So, to be able to see what these students create and relate to some of what they’re doing, it’s incredible and it’s exciting every year to see what kinds of different pieces are going to be created.”

She sees the museum as an important link to the local artistic community. “This exhibit says we want to encourage not only artists in the community, but young artists in the community, to nurture these relationships, to show these students that they have a place that they can come to see some of the best art along the California coast and in the world.”

As for the future of these students and their artistic pursuits, don’t be surprised if you see their names a few years down the road in magazines, art galleries, maybe even in an animated film or two. Among the sailing ships so beautifully displayed at CIMM, there are definitely some extra captains this evening who will one day sail through an ocean of color and texture. Most of all, they will be using art as their compass to communicate their unique visions of the world.

Photo Credits: Tim Pompey

Tim Pompey, a freelance writer who has done lots of local affairs and entertainment/cultural writing, lives in Oxnard. Tim is also a fiction writer (Facebook Page). You can learn about his books on

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