Teens with talent: Whatcom students passionate about the arts

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 3, 2013 

Ivie Erickson, a junior at Lynden High School, works on a drawing using charcoal during an art class on Feb. 14 in Lynden. Erickson started art in third grade but says she began to be a serious artist starting in the seventh grade.

Ivie Erickson, a junior at Lynden High School, works on a drawing using charcoal during an art class on Feb. 14 in Lynden. Erickson started art in third grade but says she began to be a serious artist starting in the seventh grade.

ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Art changes lives. And when the lives are young — the actors, the painters, the filmmakers, the musicians, the dancers — they often find their passion early and follow their hearts, possibly keeping the flame that kindles their creativity and enriches those around them.

We found five Whatcom County artists still in their teens who speak enthusiastically about their crafts and about their hopes for the future. The students were all recommended by their teachers and mentors.

"What I like to do is communicate emotions that cannot be heard with words," says Lynden High School student Ivie Erickson, who loves to draw.

"When I perform, I feel like I am showing myself to the world," says dancer Carrie Friedman, a student at Bellingham High School.

"I take an idea and I portray it onto a moving canvas," says Blaine High School student Gage Allen, a filmmaker.

"People always tell me that music comes naturally to me," says musician Adam Billings, who attends Fairhaven Middle School.

"I want to strive to make that (acting) an opportunity for kids in the future who might have the same dreams as me, or any other artistic dreams," says Bellingham High School student and actor Kaleb Van Rijswijck.

Art changes lives.



Ivie Erickson, a junior at Lynden High School, works on a drawing using charcoal during an art class on Feb. 14 in Lynden. Erickson started art in third grade but says she began to be a serious artist starting in the seventh grade. ANDY BRONSON — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

IVIE ERICKSON, ARTIST

Tell us about yourself. I was born in Yakima on Nov. 22, 1995, along with my identical twin sister, Jordyn. I am 17 years old and I am as much of a handful for my parents as ever. I attend Lynden High School. I have been enrolled in Lynden schools since second grade. And I'm a Mormon.

What do you do, artistically speaking? What I like to do is communicate emotions that cannot be heard with words. I mainly use pencil as my medium. I have been most known for my sketches, and the detail that I put into them.

However, I have recently been taken away with a love for charcoal. Usually, I do projects that mean something to me.

I also do some commission works, and I am having some art work put up in the Jansen Art Center in downtown Lynden.

What has been your artistic journey? I have always been creative and into drawing. Initially, art was a hobby and something I did for fun; now art has become a huge part of my life and has played a major role in who I am today.

Art is a passion and is something that I love to do. I find myself becoming enchanted daily with the love I have of practicing art myself, as well as helping others. I hope to continue with it and share my love of art for the rest of my life.

Any favorite creations or projects? Each new project that I start becomes a favorite in one way or another. A project that I have just recently started is a picture of a man with a child's hand on top of his. I love this picture and I love the contrast and story that this picture tells.

Another of my most recent projects has taken my No. 1 spot, a drawing of a lady. I love this drawing because I love the contrast between the black and white. With this second project, I have started to do more work with mediums that I'm unfamiliar with. I loved the challenge that I found in trying to capture her.

What are your plans? I hope to be able University–Idaho to become a teacher and to receive in a degree in fine arts. I hope that I will be able to teach students in a classroom setting the wonders of art, and help them unlock their potential.

I hope to always expand my artistic abilities by taking on new projects, whether it is a sketch or a painting. I look for projects that will challenge and excite me.



Kaleb Van Rjiswick rehearses March 5 in Bellingham with Chauncey Drummond for "You Can't Take It With You." COLIN DILTZ — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

KALEB VAN RIJSWIJCK, ACTOR

Tell us about yourself. I was born in 1994, here in Bellingham. I attend Bellingham High School and I'm 18

What do you do, artistically speaking? I do everything, from acting, to choreography, directing, scenic design, technical aspects and costumes. But I'm most known for my acting.

Throughout the years I have been in various theater organizations: Northwest Washington Theater Group, Claire vg Thomas Theatre in Lynden, Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth, Mount Baker Theatre, Bellingham High School and the Theater Arts Guild in Skagit County, among others.

When did you realize you enjoy being on stage? My parents tell me stories about when I was little and how one day I was singing around the house and they couldn't figure where, what they referred to as "beautiful singing," was coming from. So they quickly put my talent to use and signed me up for several local talent shows and gigs around the county.

I have sung at almost anything you can think of, ranging from funerals to policeman's balls. As harsh and tiring as that sounds, I loved it! I loved being able to sing for people, even though I had terrible stage fright at the time.

One day my mom picked me up from school and said "You're going to an audition!" I asked, "For what?" She told me that a local theater group was holding auditions for "Beauty and the Beast" and she thought I would enjoy it.

I was about 9 or 10 at the time and I had only ever been in small, school-related productions, so I was petrified. I begged her not to let me go. I was so upset. But I'm thankful every day that she made me, because that show changed my entire life. Right from the get-go I was hooked.

Any favorite roles? "Jack" in Mount Baker Theatre's Repertory production of "Into the Woods." It was my first professional show.

What are your plans? Right now my dream is to get into a college with amazing theater arts programs. I want to get some incredible training and work nonstop on the art that I love. After college I wish to make a career as a professional actor, hopefully on Broadway, as cliché as that is.

Once I'm finished with my acting career I would love to come back to Bellingham and open an arts academy school of some sort. I always wished I could go to a school like that, but there was never one here, and the budgets have been cut so much that most schools are barely scraping by with their arts programs.

I want to strive to make that an opportunity for kids in the future who might have the same dreams as me, or any other artistic dreams.



Carrie Friedman, in purple, a freshman at Bellingham High School, practices a routine in the advanced ballet class on March 5 at The Dance Studio in Bellingham. COLIN DILTZ — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

CARRIE FRIEDMAN, DANCER

Tell us about yourself: I was born in Bellingham. I attend Bellingham High School, and I am 14 years old.

I am known for both dance and choreography, especially lyrical dance (which fuses jazz and contemporary dance) and hip-hop.

What do you do, artistically speaking? I started dancing at The Dance Studio when I was 4 years old, making this my 11th year at the studio. At first, I just took ballet and tap. Since then I have added jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, musical theater and pointe.

My favorite genre is lyrical. I was put in my first lyrical class by accident and I fell in love with it right away.

Who are some of your mentors? My most influential teachers have been Raelynn Cameron and Brittany Setter. Raelynn taught me grace while Brittany made me into a stronger, more confident dancer.

Raelynn used to teach at the studio before she went to nursing school, and Brittany is the current owner of the studio. She's Wendy's daughter; Wendy founded the Dance Studio in 1979, and Brittany became the owner in 2012.

What has been your artistic journey? I have performed at Mount Baker Theatre and Bellingham High School with the Dance Studio. I have also performed my own choreography at Whatcom Middle School.

I dance whenever I get the opportunity. I have gone to several dance conventions in the Seattle-Tacoma area. I also dance and choreograph at home as much as I can.

I love how easy it is to express yourself when you're dancing. When I perform, I feel like I am showing myself to the world.

If I'm not dancing, I'm not at my best. I always get nervous before I go on stage, but as soon as the music starts, all of the nerves go away.

What are your plans?

I would like to teach wherever there aren't very many opportunities. I think it's really important for kids to have something that they can look forward to and be confident about. The Dance Studio has always been a place where I could forget about anything stressful and just do what I love with people that I love.

My goal for the future is to be part of the dance program at the University of Texas at Austin, then become a dance teacher. I would love to pass on what I have learned to younger dancers and help them pursue their own goals.

My ultimate dream would be to become a choreographer on "So You Think You Can Dance."


Gage Allen, center, shows Naomi McFarland, left, and Sarah Dean footage of a close-up sequence they recorded on Feb. 22 in Blaine. COLIN DILTZ — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

GAGE ALLEN, FILMMAKER

About Gage: Allen, 17, was born in Winnemucca, Nev. He attends Blaine High School.

What do you do, artistically speaking? I take an idea and I portray it onto a moving canvas; the moving canvas being a screen.

Many of my short films include very complex special effects. The thing about special effects is that if there is one single detail that is out of place, incorrect or not used in the right way, the audience will throw the effect away as unrealistic.

That is why I use industry-standard editing equipment to add that extra dimension of detail to my films. The whole point about film is to delve into the human mind and activate the imaginative and emotional side of the audience.

How long have you been interested in film? I started doing film when I was around 9 years old. Years later, I started posting the videos/short films I would do on YouTube under the channel name Lotims. After a while I gained some viewership and ended up becoming a YouTube partner.

In my freshman year, I sent in a video to CNN on their Student News section of their program, and they ended featuring me on CNN Student News.

There is a videogame called "SCP Containment Breach" that is a survival horror game. I noticed the game didn't have a trailer, as it was still in development but open to the public. After I contacted the developer, he said he wanted me to make an official trailer for the game. Once I finished, it was put up on the front page of the main webpage and millions went on to see it. It was rated in the top five hottest indie game trailers by Indie Game Magazine.

Did that lead to other projects? The developer of the game that I did the trailer for ended up telling me he thought it was perfect, that it was amazing work and that it captured the game atmosphere really well. After that I got approached by several video game developers about making a trailer and developing their games.

I have been currently working on six videogames. I avidly attend film competitions and film festivals as well.

Any other favorite projects? Another favorite project is a short film/video I did called "Amorphous," about a woman who has schizophrenia and slowly lets her mind go. I mainly made a disturbing and eerie atmosphere using only simple, yet clever, editing.

What are your plans? I mainly want to make films that are suspenseful or have a very new atmosphere, such as many of David Fincher's films and Christopher Nolan's. I really want to attend The Art Institute of Seattle. After college, I suspect I would just keep pushing on with my projects.



Adam Billings, far right, an eighth-grader at Fairhaven Middle School, receives direction from conductor Grant Donnellan during a rehearsal with the North Sound Youth Symphony on March 4 in Bellingham. ALEX ROBERTS - THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

ADAM BILLINGS, MUSICIAN

Tell us about yourself. I was born right here in Bellingham. I am an eighth-grader at Fairhaven Middle School and I am 14.

What do you do, artistically speaking? I play the clarinet, mainly. Along with that I play the oboe, the bass clarinet and the soprano, alto, and tenor saxo- phones. I study the clarinets and the saxophones with Mark Kelly and the oboe with Jennifer Weeks.

I am known for playing lots of instruments and playing them well. I am also known for my love of music. I compose a lot and I have conducted. I won the young composers" contest for the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra last year. People always tell me that music comes naturally to me.

What has been your artistic journey? In the fifth grade I heard that Nooksack Elementary, the school that I was attending, was having an after-school band program and I really wanted to play in it. I picked up the clarinet and I was a natural. I have studied music ever since then, and I still love it.

What kind of music do you play? I play jazz and classical. I enjoy them equally. I like to combine the two when I compose music. I recently composed a symphony that combined the fluency of jazz and the movement of classical.

When did you realize that you enjoy performing? I realized I enjoyed performing two summers ago. Mark Kelly gave me a solo on one of the Bellingham Youth Jazz Band songs and it was the first one I had ever done. I was so nervous that I didn"t want to do the solo. But I had to,so when it was my turn to solo, I stood up and played my solo perfectly.

Right then I realized that I loved this. Now I ask for as many solos as I can have.

Who are some of your mentors? I don't think I could pick a favorite mentor. There have been so many people who have put me on the right path, but if I had to, I think I would pick my sixth-grade band teacher, Liz Aplin. She has been a huge influence on me my whole life.

What are your plans? Right now I am studying composition with Roger Briggs. I love to compose, so I think my goal is to become a composer. My dream is to go to The Julliard School of Music and get a Ph.D. in music education. Then I would want to be the conductor of an orchestra in New York and, in my free time, I would compose. That is my dream.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com. Follow Bellingham Entertainment on Facebook or @bhamentertainme on Twitter.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com. Follow Bellingham Entertainment on Facebook or @bhamentertainme on Twitter.

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