Spring Branch ISD Featured News

SBISD February Fine Arts Spotlight: Alina Du

“In my 33 years of teaching, I have NEVER encountered a student that has such raw talent and vision,” said Memorial High School Art teacher Elissa Barry.

“I can honestly say that Alina has consistently been a student of utmost dedication, determination and honesty. When you look up the definition of Renaissance man, just take those words and insert Alina’s name. Alina is a present-day “woman” that has acquired profound knowledge and proficiency in more than one field.”

What inspired you to participate in art?
My parents are both designers, so I was lucky enough to grow up in an environment that encouraged all forms of art. During the weekends, we would frequent art museums and galleries, and it was from these moments that I began to develop a passion for art. I’m pretty sure I even learned to draw before I learned to read, so art has always just been a part of my life.
What kinds of art do you enjoy doing?
My favorite art forms are painting and sculpture. I’m drawn to these two forms because they allow me to experiment and explore my abilities. With sculpture, I am always testing new mediums, from clay to industrial spray foam. I find sculpture especially challenging, and in turn the most rewarding.
What do you like most about art classes at MHS?
The environment and community found in art classes at MHS are truly unbeatable. I found some of my closest friends through art, and Mrs. Barry teaches and transforms her classroom into a space of support and encouragement.
Is there a favorite moment or memorable art piece from your time at MHS? Why?
I have so many favorite memories from art that it’s hard to choose! I’d say a cherished memory I hold is when my friends and I all had the opportunity to go to [the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo School Art] auction last year. We were all so nervous to hear back the results and Mrs. Barry gathered all of us together before she told us. When we found out, we were all cheering and so excited about going to auction together. Then, at the award ceremony, when I won 3-D Class Champion, I could hear everyone’s cheers as I walked across the stage. I was so happy and hearing Mrs. Barry and my friends cheer me on made me feel so supported. A memorable art piece, which is also one of my favorites, is a painting I impulsively started during my sophomore year and promptly forgot about. Later, as I was working on my junior year AP Art Portfolio, I found it under a stack of unfinished artworks. When I rediscovered it, I realized I had gained more skill and therefore could paint it how I originally envisioned. I took it home and spent many nights on each element, and now it is one of the pieces I am most proud of. It is called “Patchwork Persona.”


How have your art teachers inspired you or helped you?

Mrs. Barry has always been my number one advocate and supporter and is someone I know I can rely on. With any problem or unexpected situation that comes up, Mrs. Barry is at the forefront fighting for not only me, but each one of her students. She always has advice on what to do for art and anything else that happens in life. Her room is known as the "Nest of Trust," and it is truly a safe place for anyone. I will miss it when I graduate in May!

“Alina is the person I can rely and count on to show up and get the work done,” said Barry. “She has proven mastery in sculpture, drawing, painting, photography and graphic design. Alina earned a PERFECT score on her AP Drawing Portfolio, receiving the maximum score on each portion of the exam as a Junior; only 308 students in the world received a perfect score displaying a high skill level above her years. Alina has earned eight regional Gold Keys and numerous Silver Keys in the Scholastic Art Competition. For the past three years, Alina has earned a Best of Show for 3-D for SBISD in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo art competition and last year her sculpture won Best of Class selling for $69,000 at auction. Alina was one of two students who earned auction status in both 3-D and 2-D art (her painting sold for $28,000). These are just a few of the outstanding accomplishments Alina has achieved artistically. She is also the Co-Editor of the prestigious MHS Yearbook, Valedictorian and National Merit Finalist. Alina Du is a unique individual who can work creatively and logically at a masterful level. Alina is an exceptional student who has made a positive impact on my role as an educator and a student who is indelibly impressed in my memory.”


What skills have you acquired that will help you in the future?

One of the most important skills I have acquired that will help me in the future is the ability to handle criticism and failure. As an artist, receiving criticism is inevitable, and while sometimes it can be frustrating, it only promotes progress. Though I didn’t think so at the time, when I look back now, I would not be where I am without taking in feedback and criticism. Additionally, through art, I’ve grown to embrace failure. My mom always says, “It’s better to keep trying and failing rather than be so afraid of failure that you don’t try at all.” I have hundreds of terrible sketches and discarded paintings, but I can learn from each piece I do. I think this perspective applies to all areas of my life and helps me to not shy away from new opportunities.

What Core Characteristic(s) have you developed most by being part of this activity?

Through art, I have had to be Persistent and Adaptable. I’ve been entering the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo since the sixth grade, but it wasn’t until five years later, during my sophomore year that I finally won my first award. Every year I pour hundreds of hours into my artwork despite not knowing what the possible outcome may be. Additionally, for every piece I create, including my sculptures, I will scrap and restart multiple times. I think many artists will agree when I say that we are super picky and detail-oriented about our work. If something isn’t correct or proportional, we have to fix it. It is through persistence that I can finish these projects and art pieces.

Will you pursue art after high school?

I do hope to pursue art after high school by going into the design field. In college, I hope to combine my art and design skills to make an impact on my community.

What are your post-high-school plans?

I will be attending college, though I haven’t fully committed to any school yet. I am excited to see where the next four years will take me!

“In my role as Visual Arts Coordinator, I kept noticing Alina’s name pop up within our district, regional and state competitions,” said SBISD Visual Arts Coordinator Lindsay Ripley. “She has an absolute gift when it comes to visual storytelling and has demonstrated mastery over a variety of art media. I hope she continues to hone her craft as she finishes high school and moves onto future creative endeavors!”

SBISD’s Fine Arts programming provides students opportunities to participate in theater, band, orchestra, choir, dance, art and much more. Performing and fine arts provide an important means of communication where thoughts, creativity and expression can be directed to ennoble, uplift, inspire and build.

For questions regarding SBISD Fine Arts, contact SBISD’s Director of Fine Arts or the art instructor at your school.