Video+Gallery+Story: Pebble Hills High Artist Building New Vision for Art

I love art. Painting, a sketch, a simple stroke of ink that can express a whole world of thought in a single line. I love the expression it brings, the emotions it can evoke from the viewer. Art that leaves the viewer to bring their own experiences to bear, when viewing the piece, when deciding what it means is the best.

Not long ago I found such a piece and just had to have it. I spent three weeks trying to track down the artist and her teacher!

The El Paso Community College Administration Building, located off Viscount and behind the Fountains can be an amazing place. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the time to visit, but when they have an art display, it is the best place to be.

I know, you probably think that we have the El Paso Museum of Art. I’m not knocking the Museum, or the collection it houses. Just – for me – what they have is too static. Except for a few shows, or seasonal changes, it’s the same.

I want variety, diversity of style and thought. I want art that expresses and shows what the artist was thinking, feeling, and how I may be drawn into their story. I want pure art. Not the product of years of education, shows, and whatnot. I want art.

The EPCC Administration Building, from time to time, will display student art of all types, and kinds. Not just from EPCC students, but students within the El Paso school districts. That’s how I found four simple, ordinary bricks that were transformed into art and a story that took me back to my time in, and love for New York City.

Kailie Thomas is a student at Pebble Hills High School. She’s also, in my opinion, an artist we will hear more of in the future.

“It [art] was also something I always liked as a kid,” says Kailie. “In middle school, I always wanted to take it, but I was never able to take it because I had other priorities.” When she entered high school, she made sure art was a class she was going to have.

“I have so much freedom,” she says of art and her classed with teacher Julian Vidales.

“She is an out of the box thinker,” says Julian Vidales of Kailie. “Defiantly inspired by nature.”

Mr. Vidales has always allowed Kailie freedom to bend the rules and go beyond the boundaries of the projects they are working on.
“I know she is more than capable,” Mr. Vidales says. “She always comes up with different ideas and ways of constructing it.”

Then he mentions how she created a canvas out of four ordinary bricks.

“It was a great idea,” said Mr. Vidales. “She created this canvas out of this actual material that ties in well into the subject.”

The bricks, according to Kailie, is a piece that “I chose to do a four-way viewing because I wanted it to tell a story,” says Kailie. “The assignment was to choose a time that impacted us most, and I chose the 1920’s.”

The Roaring twenties gave birth to prohibition, Babe Ruth’s home run record, the Scopes Trial, and the changing role of American women.

“It was a big time for women, in general,” says Kailie.

The Twenties began to see women working in factories, building skyscrapers. A time for women to show that they were just as strong, willing and as powerful as any man. Kailie’s piece speaks to, and from that power.

Why bricks?

“I felt like it [the bricks] goes with my story I was trying to tell,” she said. “It was also the construction of cities, and the starting of us like people in our city and the United States.”

The piece also spoke to me. It took me back to New York City and my time there. I could hear the almost non-stop hustle and bustle of the streets, and sounds of construction, and those guys trying to get you to lose your money on Three Card Monte.

All of that came back to me, flooding my memory and emotions. That caused me to long for that city again. Kailie Thomas is someone we are going to be hearing from again. I think the world needs her as well as her art. Espically if she continues to create pieces, such as the bricks, that speak of equality, empowerment, and growth.

We also need more ways to appreciate the art created by those young visionaries in our public schools.

What EPCC is doing is a start, but more needs to be done. It’s one thing when your family and friends support you and your work. When a city can come out to support you, that’s another thing altogether.

We need public spaces for art. We need those spaces to be open to freedom of form and expression.

We need to see more from Kailie Thomas and those who attend art classes all across the city.