Local art students take their show on the road

Posted: August 28th, 2015 | Arts & Entertainment, Features, Top Stories | No Comments

By Jeremy Ogul

Audiences who arrive at the Lyceum Theatre for the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s production of “Violet” this month will be treated to something new in the lobby: an exhibition of work from students in Platt College’s School of Multimedia Design.

Titled “Self-Impressionism: Unearth the Spirit,” the show features more than 50 paintings, illustrations and photographs from more than 20 students at the small, private art school on El Cajon Boulevard.

La Mesa resident Keelie Occhino is one of the students whose art will be on display. It’s the first time her work will be displayed publicly.


A piece of artwork by La Mesa resident Keelie Occhino

“I put a lot into my work, and it’s exciting to see other people interested in it and liking it as much as I do,” she said.

Occhino, 22, moved from Murrieta to La Mesa to attend Platt College, where she is working on earning an associate’s degree in graphic design. She plans to stay in school and eventually earn a bachelor’s in multimedia. Her ultimate goal is to become an art director.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Occhino said. “Being in a group of students who are all very creative, who have a similar mind, and the teachers pushing you — it led me to a higher level in my own expectations of what my art can be.”

Keelie Occhino (Courtesy Occhino)

Keelie Occhino (Courtesy Occhino)

When Occhino started, she struggled with some of the software programs — such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator — that are standard in the industry, but her skills have improved dramatically.

“I’m starting to realize that I’m actually good at these programs,” she said.

Nicole Lewis, a writing instructor who also serves as the school’s head librarian, organized and curated the exhibit at the Lyceum. The exhibit is meant to tie in with the theme of the play, “Violet,” which focuses on a girl who was disfigured at a young age and dreams of being beautiful again. In keeping with that theme, the student art exhibit highlights various forms of art inspired by each student’s awareness of their own identity, Lewis said.

“I really love getting the students’ work out there,” Lewis said. “I’m all about the resume-building and the experience for the students.”

Lewis was motivated to put on more student exhibits after curating her first show at the Spring Valley branch of the San Diego County Library in February. That show was a celebration of Black History Month and featured work by African American students.

Platt College Chairman Bob Leiker said the exhibits serve as examples of what students need to succeed in the real world.

“At Platt College, we are always creating opportunities for students to show their work and get feedback from the public, because this helps prepare them for success after graduation,” Leiker said in a press release. “We are committed to providing a rigorous curriculum that includes real-world experience that prepares students to gain meaningful employment and excel as multimedia arts professionals in the future.”

The exhibit at the Lyceum will be up through Sept. 13, which is also closing night for “Violet.”

—Write to Jeremy Ogul at

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