Snapshots of Brilliance
DISTRICT | May 30, 2020
Snapshots of Brilliance

The Unique Way CPS is Highlighting More Than 750 Student Artists

Charlie V., a senior at Disney II Magnet High School, is one of the more than 750 CPS student artists featured in the district’s first-ever Virtual All-City Visual Arts Exhibition. His photography has been a mainstay in CPS exhibitions for a few years now, and he says his passion for taking photos started when his grandpa gave him an old film camera during his freshman year of high school. From there, he developed his skills by learning from other photographers and by participating in the CPS Advanced Arts Program at Gallery 37. 

“When I first got into photography, I didn’t really know anything about it,” he said. “I just kept experimenting and kept taking pictures to see what I liked, what worked, and what I was good at. Going to Advanced Arts gave me a really well-rounded education where I learned how to do a lot of things with the camera that I didn’t know how to do before.” 

As he’s grown as a photographer, Charlie’s work has begun to intersect with his other passions. Though he generally focuses on still life and landscape photography in general, many of his photos are of railroads and trains because he volunteers at a railway museum. He also has a fascination with anything old and abandoned—his photos featured at the exhibition are of a motel and gas station from a family trip down Route 66—but, for the time being, he’s shifted to focus on more everyday objects while learning at home. In the fall, he will attend Penn State University to major in rail transportation and engineering. 

“I’m not sure how much photography will play a part in my actual schooling in college, but I do plan on continuing to pursue it,” he said. “Even if I don’t move toward doing it professionally, it will always be a hobby and something that’s fun to do.”

Since the district’s All-City Visual Arts exhibition has gone virtual, anyone in the world can view the more than 800 unique art pieces from CPS students representing more than 75 schools across the city. Student work ranges from paintings to sculptures, graphic design to photography, and fashion design to multimedia digital art. Two student artists participating in the exhibition will receive a $500 scholarship from Facility Chicago, a hub for emerging artists, to continue pursuing their artistic passions. 

Interested in viewing Charlie’s work and projects from students across the city? Visit