“Artists Aiding Artists”: Three Juniors Organize a Showcase to Support Homeless Youth


Sophie Olson

On Oct. 28, La Salle students released an online showcase featuring a variety of artwork and performances.

Dakota Canzano, Editor

Despite the challenges that the coronavirus has presented, juniors Emma Olson, Brooklyn Chillemi, and Hannah Reddick decided to put on an online showcase for performers, musicians, and artists who wanted to display their artistic endeavors. 

The “Artists Aiding Artists” event, which premiered on Oct. 28, was a fundraiser for p:ear — an organization that mentors homeless youth in Portland through art and education.

“[This show] was created specifically for the purpose of having an event during quarantine when the usual shows wouldn’t work, Olson said. “This show was created to be an online showcase.”

When deciding on the name of the event, Olson said that Chillemi, Reddick, and her “liked the alliterative phrase… so we messed around with different options until deciding on ‘Artists Aiding Artists.’” 

When COVID-19 “created an obstacle for artists,” Olson said, the three juniors felt inspired to film a showcase with the help of the drama teacher Mr. Michael Shelton, coming together to build the set under the lights in the La Salle Theater.

While advertising “Artists Aiding Artists,” the organizers wanted to make it clear that “any artist could perform their work,” Olson said. Ultimately, 10 student artists from the sophomore, junior, and senior classes performed in the showcase. 

The small production also included a crew responsible for lights, sound, props, costumes, and makeup.

Sophomore Isabella Simonutti kicked off the show with a performance from the Broadway hit musical “Nunsense” called “I Just Want to Be a Star.” 

“It was genuinely such a unique experience,” Simonutti said. “The entire audition process was so welcoming and smooth, then the performance was great. Everyone was so nice and willing to help.”

Reddick said that those involved with the event are hoping to do multiple shows like “Artists Aiding Artists” in the future, and that COVID-19 has inspired them “to create art in a digital sense, with ‘Artists Aiding Artists’ and with other art projects like multi-animator collaborations online,” she said. 

The event showcased many different forms of art, such as dancing, music, visual arts, and acting. 

“The diversity in the show turned out excellent,” Reddick said. “It was really cool to see lots of people under the artist umbrella coming together to put on the show.”

The student organizers wanted to make a difference in the art community at La Salle by allowing artists to tell stories and express themselves, like junior Gracelyn Rael, who discussed the creation of her favorite works of art. 

“It was really cool to see why these people made art,” Reddick said. “Many people use art to cope with trauma and loss. I think that says a lot about how much art can help us through such a stressful, unpredictable year.”

“We wanted to bring people together in a time when that wasn’t really happening as much,” Reddick said. “It’s difficult to immerse yourself in performing or visual arts when you aren’t in person, and a lot of people were missing the theater and community surrounding it.”

Chillemi, Reddick, and Olson are not just peers but close friends, and Olson and Reddick have known each other since kindergarten.

“I remember how she wrote her name in elementary school with little doodles and animal print around it,” Olson said. “Her art has never ceased to amaze me and continues to inspire me now.”

Olson and Reddick later met Chillemi in high school, where they all became close friends and felt connected through their expression of art. 

“Her insight into the performing arts world has encouraged me to try new things as an artist,” Olson said. “These two artists are kind, thoughtful, and share a passion for creating, as do I.”

Now that this years’ “Artists Aiding Artists” event has concluded, Olson reflected on the showcase.

“This event was a vessel for expressing my voice as an artist and for everyone else who participated something that quarantine has made quite difficult,” Olson said. “In a way, COVID-19 created an obstacle for artists, but the challenge has inspired us to find new ways to express our artistic voice and support each other.”