Ben Lippen Stories

Student Spotlight: Eva Clinton & Kelly Zhao

To celebrate Youth Art Month, we are shining a spotlight on two AP Art students: Eva Clinton and Kelly Zhao.


True to the theme of the 2023 Youth Art month, “Your Art, Your Voice,” two Ben Lippen seniors found ways to express themselves and learn forgiveness, emotional growth, and the power art plays in connecting to others.

In her artistic experience, Kelly Zhao learned how to express forgiveness and growth even through circumstances outside her control. To her, art is a conduit to see the world through more than rose-colored glasses. Even when things don’t go the way she planned, she can still see the benefit and beauty in the unexpected.

That thought inspired her favorite art piece, a stop-motion animation titled “Metamorphosis.” The piece is born from change itself, from old to new, a hybrid of traditional Chinese paper cutting and modern art, Kelly said. Although the end result was different than what she envisioned, she noticed the symbolism of the situation: cutting through layers of paper (and confusion) to find something spectacular on the previously unknown side.

Deciding to roll with the punches, Kelly saw herself in the unplanned project. It opened her eyes to a different kind of art—a kind that planted a seed and took root in her mind.

“Art enhances my sentimental connection to the world, which influences my understanding of both myself and the world around me,” she said. “This exposes the creativity of flourishing minds.”

Art has also helped Eva Clinton connect to the world around her, although in a much more familial sense. Taking after her artist father, she has “loved art since I was able to pick up a pencil” and spent most of her life bonding over their shared love. She grew in her abilities each time he took a moment to mentor and encourage her skills, and because of that, art is a source of comfort and relaxation for her.

While bonding over the basics at home, she also appreciated the way Ben Lippen’s program helped her implement routine and learning opportunities while also flexing her creative skills.

“I especially appreciate AP Art because of the freedom I have to create an idea and theme and communicate it in beautiful and meaningful ways,” she said.

Eva’s favorite creation is an oil painting of a figure in a cathedral sanctuary. As oil is her specialized medium, she wanted to make sure that “every detail was perfect,” even if it meant long hours and redos. The vibrant colors and personal meaning hold the painting close to her heart, and she is “very proud of the work that I put into it.”

Though both Kelly and Eva love their AP Art class with Mr. Reinold Winterhalter, their plans diverge after graduation. Kelly will continue to study art at The New College, but Eva will major in biological sciences at Clemson’s pre-medical program. Even so, they hold tight to what they have learned in the Ben Lippen Fine Arts program.

“A lot of my inspiration and creative ideas came from our conversations in class,” Kelly said. “(Mr. Winterhalter) always provided me with new and exciting ideas for exploration. I have to say, some of my happiest memories of my time at Ben Lippen were spent after school in the art room. Thank you, Mr. Winterhalter.”

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