Creating an Artist

By Natalie A. Trout
Director of Marketing & Communications

Isabella von Seggern ‘21 is the epitome of an artist, an athlete, and a scholar. She’s been a Canterbury student since Grade 6 and has participated in cross country, track and field, speech and debate, and swimming, all while being a student and an impressive photographer. One of her photographs was selected to appear in the University of Saint Francis School of Creative Arts 44th Annual High School Exhibition, and she won Canterbury’s Outstanding Portfolio Award at the 2021 Fine Arts Recognition Evening.

Why is “Artist, Athlete, Scholar,” a good tagline for Canterbury School and the opportunities here?

Isabella von Seggern (IvS):  I think it’s a good tagline because the school really provides equal opportunities for all three. It’s up to the student to pursue them, but if you choose to pursue any (or even all three), there are people available to help you go far.

In what ways do you see yourself as an artist at Canterbury School?

IvS: I see myself as an artist mostly with photography. I’ve taken a few art classes, and I enjoyed that, but I prefer taking photos. The more I’ve explored photography, the more I’ve realized how you can mess with small details to have a massive impact on the photograph. This semester especially, I’ve been learning how to take still-life photos and it’s been interesting to see how different lights change the mood of the photo and how the positioning of even minute objects, such as a fork, can change where your eye goes.

Tell me about a Fine Arts teacher at Canterbury who has inspired you or helped you.

IvS: Mr. Stephen Perfect has definitely had the greatest impact on me as he’s helped me realize that photography is more than just snapping a photo. He’s taught me the art of editing, framing, positioning, and even developing film. He’s also shown me to think outside the box and visualize. Mr. Perfect is crazy in that he is able to look at photos and see things no one else does, and I think that’s what makes him such a good photographer. His urge to share it with others and help them see outside the box is what makes him such a good teacher.

In what ways do you see yourself as an athlete?

IvS: I am an athlete in that I’ve been on several sports teams; cross country and track being my favorite. I put a lot of effort into running, and, like photography, there’s more to running than just running. You need to know how to pace yourself, have a strong core, and most importantly, have a work ethic. When you’re on that last mile in a 5K, the mental drive becomes really important.

In what ways do you see yourself as a scholar?

IvS: I work hard in all of my courses, but I think I’m a scholar in that I genuinely enjoy learning and thinking about things, specifically those related to science. I honestly get so excited when I’m able to relate things I learn in class to real-world situations and issues. I’ve not only learned about biology, chemistry, and physics in my science classes, but I’ve learned numerous life skills, such as the importance of having a positive attitude or even realizing that nothing is impossible.

What are some of your favorite Canterbury memories?

IvS: Some of my favorite Canterbury memories come from the cross country team. I always loved standing beside the course with the girls’ team while guys were racing. I still have videos on my phone from my sophomore year where you can hear Allie Godfrey screaming like a banshee as Nithin Krishnan entered the final stretch of the race and passed the people in front of him.

Another memory I’m fond of was the Q&A portion when I was presenting my independent project. I was supposed to be answering questions but it became a conversation, and I was able to learn so much from those on my panel.

How has Canterbury School prepared you for college?

IvS: Honestly, when I first came to the school, I thought “preparing me for college” meant I would receive a lot of scholarship offers, but, as time has gone on, I’ve realized the school has prepared me both for college and for life. I actually wrote my Common App essay about how my AP classes taught me plenty of skills such as how to study copious amounts of material and how to pick myself back up after failing to reach a goal.

What are your plans after graduation?

IvS: I plan to attend Iowa State University, and to take part in a lot of undergraduate research. I ultimately want to attend vet school. As for the summer, I plan to work, spend time with my friends before we leave for college, participate in 4-H, and spend a month interning.

Finish this sentence: I’m grateful for my experience at Canterbury School because...

IvS: I’m grateful for my time at Canterbury because it allowed me to explore all my interests and have access to opportunities I would never have had at the public schools. I also feel much more prepared for college. I remember my freshman year, I was working on my chemistry homework, and my sister, a freshman in college, saw me doing my homework and started asking me for help on hers because we were studying the exact same thing. Canterbury also gave me the ability to delve into research, learn how to use a dark room, and travel to places like Stratford, Canada and Spain.