Staff Report

While the Wildling Museum is currently closed due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the museum is pleased to announce the online exhibition “Inspired in Nature,” featuring works by 29 Solvang School yearbook and media students. 

The seventh- and eighth-graders were inspired by American transcendentalist writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau’s quote: “All good things are wild and free.” 

Students were tasked with the challenge of applying their photography skills to develop an image that captured the essence of Thoreau’s quote. Specifically, students focused on color and contrast, symmetry, and depth of field in planning and executing their individual visions. 

2020 Solvang School media and yearbook class is shown at the school. Courtesy Alyssa Spanier

The students turned their lenses to nature, many finding inspiration in their own backyard, with subjects ranging from pets and family members to local landscapes and sunsets captured in both color and black and white.

“Natural beauty can truly be discovered anywhere, and if this show helped students discover the outdoors and ignited their creativity through photography, it’s already an incredible achievement,” said Wildling Museum Executive Director Stacey Otte-Demangate. 

The Wildling Museum is grateful to former Los Angeles Times and NFL professional photographer George Rose, who judged the students’ work and awarded the top three works, along with honorable mentions. 

“These students presented a great diversity of subject matter with thoughtful captions all capturing their assigned theme,” said Rose. “I was impressed to see black and white photography included in the exhibit, as it’s often the most difficult to transfer to print. These students should be commended for their photography skills.”

Rose awarded First Place to Itzel Medina for a black and white portrait among the trees titled, “When Serenity Calms the Storm.” Second Place went to “A Settled Leaf” by Sophia Delacruz, and Third Place was awarded to Naomi Ferguson for “A Walk to Peace.” Honorable mentions were awarded to Amy Rodriguez Buenrostro for “Be Fearless,” Shannon Morehouse for “Behind the Clouds,” and Addie Shelly for “Growing Wild and Free.”

The students’ instructor, Alyssa Spanier, has been teaching for five years at Solvang School, and this is her third year as the media and yearbook advisor. 

“Solvang School is very excited about our partnership with the Wildling Museum to create this exhibit and share our students’ work with the community for the second year in a row,” she said.

In the media and yearbook class, students learn through individual and group projects about various media forms including print, digital, video and audio. They also explore photography and the elements of design to develop the school yearbook. 

A full online gallery of all Solvang School student work featured in the “Inspired by Nature” exhibition is available on the Wildling Museum’s website at 

Additional digital resources are available at, including online galleries from all current exhibitions, links to art activities, videos, and more to help online visitors find engaging art escapes to pass the time while staying safe while practicing social distancing.

The Wildling Museum of Art & Nature, where art and nature meet, offers visitors a unique perspective on the importance of preserving our natural heritage. Through the eyes of artists, and education and field experiences, guests can renew their relationship with the wilderness and understand its fragile nature – hopefully leaving more committed toward ensuring those spaces remain for future generations. For more information, and to volunteer or join as a member to support this important local arts and nature institution, please visit