Sonia the Artist

Arts  /  by Linda Li '19  /  October 06, 2017

Works from Shah's AP portfolio

Oftentimes in the arts, performers who excel at singing, dancing, and acting are known as a “triple threat.” While artist Sonia Shah ’18 might not necessarily fit that description, she is a triple threat in her own right, taking part in visual arts, music, and theater. One might even call her a “quadruple threat” if her participation in the circus arts is also taken into account.

Since her II Form year, Shah has been a part of Periwig Tech, serving as a member of the crew for “Freshman Shakespeare,” Cinderella, and the upcoming musical Guys and Dolls. Shah has also played the piano for 10 years, and has taken private lessons on campus, performing at Midday Music. Additionally, Shah has participated in the Trenton Circus Squad for the past three years and worked on refining her circus skills. This includes juggling pins, unicycling, doing a few tricks on the Chinese Yo-yo, and she is currently attempting the silks. On campus, Shah is quasi-famous for her stilt-walking stint during the community service Halloween Party and Springfest.

However, the form of art Shah is perhaps best known for on campus is visual, which she considers to be her strength. Shah got her start in visual arts from a young age—“I was always into art [and] did projects with my mom. She didn’t work at the time and always loved visual arts, but she never got the opportunity to take lessons while growing up, so she really wanted me to have that opportunity [and] she tried to teach me on her own,” said Shah. Throughout her childhood, she continued her involvement by taking art classes both inside and out of school.

At Lawrenceville, Shah has taken various visual arts courses. She took Foundations of Art for two terms during her II Form year, Drawing for one term in her III Form year, and Honors Studio Art, a 500-level year-long course, her IV Form year. “[Studio Art] was a big commitment,” said Shah, “[it] was really challenging but really rewarding for me. That was the class I can easily say is my favorite class at Lawrenceville.” The class required students to complete a two-part portfolio of their work, which they also submitted to the Advanced Placement Exam. “It wasn’t even about the AP but rather a finishing a portfolio of my work that I could look back on and feel that I've accomplished something,” commented Shah.

The first part of the portfolio, the breadth, was a compilation of different styles of artwork that displayed the student’s skill, and the second part, the concentration, required students to focus on a theme and create twelve works based on it. “It was very difficult at first to come up with something because you have to commit for twelve pieces. You have to choose something open enough so you can work with explore it, but narrow enough that it’s still a concrete idea,” said Shah. “Our teachers [Art Master Brian Daniell H’06 ’89 in the Winter and Visual Arts Fellow Stuart Robertson ’11 in the Spring] really pushed us to try different things.” Eventually, she picked her theme to be children, illustrating various scenes from a child’s perspective.

In addition to her art courses, Shah also serves as the Art Editor for The Lit, formerly drew graphics for The Lawrence and Olla Pod, and designed the Diversity Council shirts.

Shah plans on continuing her artistic endeavors in the future, although she recognizes the difficulty of doing that in college. “I heard it was really difficult to do as a minor because it takes so much time, and I got a taste of that last year… But I'm definitely looking at interdisciplinary studies that combine art and design skills with other things that can be really interesting,” said Shah.