When junior Gabby Holt transferred to Shaker Heights High School, the demure teen learned that she had an inner artist.
“At my old school, there weren’t a lot of programs in the arts, but when I came here, everything was about the arts,” Gabby says. “I really appreciated it because the exposure has helped me grow as an artist and as a person.”
Since last April, Gabby has been hard at work on her first exhibition, a collection of recreated photographs from iconic moments in African American history called “Looking Back...Moving Forward.” The exhibition includes Dr. Hutchings posing as Malcolm X and several of her peers posing as Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Barack and Michelle Obama, John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Gloria Steinem. In another image, Gabby portrays Rosa Parks in her mug shot.
She began the project with the help of High School Guidance Counselor David Peake, who also advises the NAACP Youth Council. The exhibition is currently on display in the High School egress and is presented by the Youth Council’s committee on arts and culture. Gabby’s images are thought-provoking and invite onlookers to step closer to compare and contrast and to consider the impact her subjects had on our society.
Gabby admits that completing the body of work was no easy task, but that she’s glad she stuck with it. “I kept trying to imagine what it would look like once everything was done and it was hanging up. I just kept that in my mind as the ultimate goal,” she says. “And I’m so proud of everyone who was involved with it and who helped me. It’s so cool to me that we have an art gallery and that it includes the work of African American students.”