[proof] Winter 2021

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[proof] palo alto high school winter 2021

cover by neil rathi

inside cover by renny argast


about [proof] is Palo Alto High School’s bi-annual fine arts and photography magazine. Our publication contains art from a variety of styles and mediums, featuring local, national, and student artists. Our goal is to showcase student art, promote the role of the arts in education and in our community, and encourage creativity.

from the editors Hello! Welcome to the winter issue of [proof] magazine. We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on over the past semester. Despite the pandemic putting a halt to production last year, we’re up and running again. This issue focuses specifically on how the events of the last year have impacted art, from the Black Lives Matter movement, to art businesses, and to how students have worked to create art from home. We hope you enjoy our magazine, and we’re looking forward to our next issue!

editors editor-in-chief | neil rathi art | alison xiong design | megha madhabhushi managment | kirtana romfh

advisor margo wixsom photography instructor palo alto high school mwixsom@pausd.org

contact us

staff alma samet hana krieger iris tang joy xu neela rao renny argast risha suvarna zeke morrison caroline zhang

Submit artwork to proof.paly@gmail.com to be featured in our next issue. Our past issues are available online at issuu.com/proofpaly.


10 blm street art 12 palo alto art center 14 diwali 16 sfiaf 18 reese ford 22 willow schmidt 26 student gallery

photo by renny argast


Black Lives Matter zeke morrison



George Floyd died on May 25, 2020. His death added to a series of racially motivated killings by police. Black Lives Matter protests sprung up all over the country, even reaching across the globe. As protesters took to the streets, artists around the Bay Area took to the biggest canvases they could find–the cities around them. And as protestors were armed with signs and flags, artists had equally powerful weapons in their arsenal: paints and brushes. From huge murals on storefronts to tiny tags on backstreets, artists made their voices heard. Despite their differences in medium, color, depiction, and size, one thing every piece shared was their call for change.

Using art as a tool for revolution isn’t a new phenomenon. From Picasso’s Guernica to Golub’s White Squad V, art has long been used as a medium for protest. In the last 30 years, however, street art and graffiti have made protest art more acessible to the masses. Vibrant colors and huge murals call out to passers by, inviting others to join the movement. I found these murals in downtown San Jose. If you’d like to see them for yourself, they’re in Santa Clara.

blm street art


palo alto renny argastart& risha center suvarna

The Palo Alto Art Center is known to most people for its fun art programs and its creative exhibits. The Art Center has been a place where Palo Alto residents can be free to express themselves and enjoy wonderful art. In this pandemic, the Palo Alto Art Center has not stopped being a place of creativity and positivity within the community.



Luckily, The Palo Alto Art Center has stayed open despite the pandemic. To the delight of Palo Alto residents, The Art Center is currently holding online and in-person art classes for everyone. They are utilising a pod system for in-person classes that allows students to be safe and comfortable in the learning environment. The Art Center is doing its part to spread positivity to the community during these difficult and sometimes scary times. The Art Centers’ main exhibit right now is ‘Community Advice’ By Susan O’Mally. The goal of the project is to give some positivity back to Palo Alto, using advice given by the Palo Alto residents.

art center palo alto art center

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diwali neil rathi

Diwali is a hindu holiday, celebrated across India as the festival of lights. Families set up candles and lanterns outside their homes, creating a garland of light through their neighborhoods.



Diwali celebrates the Hindu story of Rama’s triumph over Ravana—or more symbolically, the triumph of light over darkness. Like many Hindu holidays, it’s associated with a host of different gods, from Lakshmi to Vishnu. Despite the pandemic, light was able to beat darkness one more time. Usually rowdy parties were replaced by small, quiet events, and noisy firecrackers by silent diyas.

diwali diwali

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SFIAF article by kirtana romfh art by alison xiong

From age four, I have been learning the South Indian classical dance form of Bharatanatyam, attending rigorous practices, performing often, and forming a community around this art form. When the lockdown orders were issued in March, my dance school immediately transitioned to online classes. Despite the challenge of capturing complex footwork and movement on Zoom, we came together to keep our art form alive. For months, we delivered online performances and made do in these times of uncertainty. Then, in October, my teacher honored my brother and me with the opportunity to perform live at the San Francisco International Arts Festival. Since 2003, SFIAF has brought international performing arts to the Bay Area. As expressed in their mission statement, “SFIAF places a high priority on the participation of culturally diverse and smaller entities”. Their inclusive, unique platform has garnered enthusiasm from wide audiences who visit the festival annually. However, amidst COVID-19 concerns, this year’s highly-anticipated show was in jeopardy. From the start of the pandemic, performing arts have suffered heavily due to lack of revenue and the inability to deliver live performances. Because of this, companies have resorted to broadcasting old performances, hosting Zoom shows, and several other creative events. Later, as the state began to relax health orders in accordance with plateauing cases, SFIAF set out to prove that the arts can be appreciated in a safe way amidst the pandemic. After procuring a permit, SFIAF proceeded to plan their festival outdoors in adherence with strict social distancing and mask guidelines. Per usual, the program invited several performing arts companies to participate. However, just a week before, the city of San Francisco shut down the event. Determined to hold the festival, SFIAF sued the city (and in turn, the state) for a violation of their First Amendment rights. Even as places of worship and restaurants were permitted to hold gatherings of up to 50 people, performing arts were not allowed. Among their legal rationale, the SFIAF advocated for the vital importance of the arts. “Performing artists genuinely feel that, through what they can communicate in their work, they have a significant role to play in our communities’ healing process,” said director Andrew Wood, “the significant economic impact attached to the gathering of people for cultural performance should also not be dismissed.” Along with many others, I eagerly awaited the results. Would artistic expression be afforded the same importance as religious services or dining out? Could an event be held without risk? When the court indicated the arts festival was likely to prevail, the city reluctantly allowed it to go ahead. A few days later, on a windy hill in San Francisco, a small, masked audience assembled on a field. Between each performance, staff wiped down the stage, processed online health screenings, and hooked up clean microphones. All performers wore masks, being careful to only arrive during their time slot. Initially, I worried that strict protocol would take away from the magic of the festival. Regardless, I was eager to help make the event as safe as possible. Despite the logistics, my fears of an underwhelming experience fell away when the familiar excitement of performing filled the air. The energy of even a small audience motivated me as I danced to the booming music. In that moment, it became abundantly clear that SFIAF was a testament to how, even in a pandemic, the arts can be reopened, honored, and appreciated safely.



reese ford interview by neil rathi

Many artists put color secondary to form when creating a new piece. For junior Reese Ford, however, color takes the spotlight in her vibrant paintings and animations.

Ford is one of just a few million teenagers with synesthesia, a phenomenon which the stimulation of one sense causes involuntary stimulation of another. For synesthetes, this often means that two senses feel as if they are “merged.” Ford has grapheme–color synesthesia, where letters and numbers each have their own distinct colors. For Ford, color is critical. “Colors are the most important thing in my life,” she says, “I see them every day when I read and do math–there are different colors for different letters and numbers.”



While to some, this might seem like a distraction, Ford has used them as a powerful tool for her art. “They’re not an annoyance, and I love them a lot, so I think that color is a really important principle of art that I use when I draw and animate,” she explains, “everything is so vibrant, and I want people to see the world in the same way I do.” Her use of color isn’t the only thing distinct about her art. Outside of painting, Ford creates creative, hand drawn animations and short films. Her Youtube channel has garnered an impressive five thousand subscribers, and her animations have a combined total of 1.2 million views. reese ford


The ongoing pandemic hasn’t been a major setback for Ford. “Quarantine gave me a lot of time that I used to develop personal projects that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.” One of these personal projects is New Floors, an animated short film that consists of original music and astoundingly detailed frames. The story “was a representation of the phases of grief and how people deal with them differently, but mostly in the same way, because there’s a common human experience of having stages of grief,” she explains, “it follows a character who gets a big message which kind of ruins her day, and you see her go through the anger, depression, and then acceptance.” The film, like much of her art, was the product of intensive hard work and meticulous refinement. “I’m a perfectionist when it comes to animation, so I want my animations to be the best that I can make them,” she says.

If you’d like to see more of Reese’s art, you can follow her on Instagram (@riise__) or YouTube (@riise).



reese ford


willow schmidt

interview by neela rao

Passion and creativity are necessities when it comes to expressing yourself through art. During the global pandemic, it can be hard for artists to stay motivated to create, but Willow Schmidt, junior at Paly and founder of small business Eclectic Outlet, has had no problem putting herself and her art out there, even during this unexpected time. Willow Schmidt recently began her own small business selling handmade jewelry, sun catchers, and more. When asked what inspired her to start selling, she said she “started it as a way to pass time, but eventually became inspired by [her] own stuff, and wanted to share it with others.” Willow began selling products through depop, a free fashion marketplace where anybody can sell products and ship to customers worldwide. With more than 100 sales, Willow has been quite successful on depop, but recently she decided to make her own website. When asked why, she explained that “depop was taking a lot of revenue and I was losing money.” With her own website she can keep more of her profits, and customize the website and create discount codes for her customers. Initially, Willow described that she felt like she was working a lot as her business began to grow. Now, she has a busy but manageable schedule and works an average of about 5 hours a week depending on how many sales she gets. 22


One of the most important things to Willow when it comes to having a business is keeping her products as environmentally friendly as she can. She decided to focus on helping the environment when it comes to her business because “to me, all the other political movements that I support and have very strong opinions of don’t matter without a planet to live on.” Not only does she make a goal of sustainable packaging and products, but Willow also donates 20% of her profits to the Environmental Defense Fund at the end of each month. Willow donates part of her profits because she believes “Even if it’s a small contribution, it feels good knowing it might lead to change”

During this pandemic, it has been hard to continue creating as an artist. With less motivation and a lot of pain in the world, it can be difficult to find the time and inspiration to create. Willow Schmidt is a great example of somebody who has not only continued creating, but actually expanded her art to more than just herself by sharing it with others. We can all be inspired by Willow’s motivation and commitment to her craft during this last year, and appreciate the fact that in the midst of a chaotic time, she is helping spread positivity with her artwork. You can find out more at her website, www.eclecticoutletusa.com, or Instagram @eclectic_outlet. willow schmidt


photo by theo conrad


renny argast

meya gao

anushe irani

student art gallery featured student artwork from artists in the paly community, from painters to photographers. to submit your work for the next issue, email proof.paly@gmail.com

hana krieger

neil rathi

theo conrad

anushe irani

theo conrad

meya gao

aniket jain

matilde mcquarrie

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