ODA Embraces Student-Centered Approach to Visual Arts
In recent years, fine arts educators have noticed a gradual shift in how visual arts are being taught. In order to keep students engaged, teachers must stay ahead of the curve to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology and teaching models being introduced into their field.
The philosophy of Out-of-Door’s Art Department is to help nurture the creativity of all students whether they plan to pursue a career in fine arts, or are taking coursework solely to fulfill a graduation requirement.
In response to this educational evolution, Head of Visual Arts Department Mrs. Leslie Garasic, has introduced a new student choice-based course this year: Art Expanded Workshop. “This course supports ODA’s model of project-based learning and recognizes that not all children need to learn the fine arts basics ordinarily taught in many traditional art classes,” says Mrs. Garasic.
During this one-semester course, students create four original pieces of art, each touching on a separate theme and incorporating an artist’s style. After thorough research and concept development, students use their medium of choice to complete their artwork. Finished pieces have included wire sculpture, water color, clay, mixed media painting, papier mâché, and charcoal/graphite drawings.
Each student is encouraged to pursue their passion and explore new ideas that interest them. “I’ve really been enjoying this class,” says Mackenzie Dove ‘21. “I’m much more interested in creating art around the social issues that I feel strongly about and learning about artists that inspire me to be more creative.”
Many have found that while exploring their ideas, they learn new things about themselves. They are encouraged to experiment with previously untried methods and try out new techniques. This builds confidence by reaching outside their comfort zones and expanding their artistic experiences.
Freshman Sydney Graham reflects on the course’s new approach. “I have freedom in this class to choose what I want to do for my projects; which materials I want to use, what artists I want to learn about. I like the challenge of figuring out my own process. I think this will help me be more creative in other classes’ projects as well.”