Byron-Bergen art students think outside the paint box

By on March 4, 2019
Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High Art Teacher Sandy Auer. Photo by Gretchen Spittler

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High Art Teacher Sandy Auer. Photo by Gretchen Spittler

Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High Art Teacher Sandy Auer approached Principal Pat McGee with a request. She wanted to shake up the visual arts curriculum. The result of that conversation is the new Eclectic Arts program, now in its first year.

This full-year course gives students an opportunity to explore a variety of arts experiences, media, and concepts not typically available in traditional art classes. Students experiment with papermaking, bookbinding, textile arts, upcycling, mixed media art, and multi-cultural and anthropological art exploration.

“Drawing, painting, and sculpture are fundamental to the visual arts, but there are so many techniques and combinations to explore,” said Auer. “The skills my students are learning will not only provide them with new ways to express themselves creatively, but also new ways of interpreting the visual world.”

Among the projects Auer’s students have undertaken this year are weaving on non-traditional looms, mixed media textile painting, acrylic pour painting, and creative collaborations with elementary school students.

“Mrs. Hill’s kindergarten class drew pictures of monsters and talked to our class about them. Acting as commissioned artists, the Eclectic Art students created finished compositions to bring the younger students’ visions to life. It was a very fun project for both classes and it gave the older students an idea of what it is like to work with a client.”

Auer also has a large-scale collaboration lined up for the spring. “We are working with local mural artist David Burke to paint the hallway entrance to the science wing. Our class submitted design ideas to Principal McGee and, together, we chose the design most suited to the space and project purpose.”

The Eclectic Art class took their study of art and techniques out of the classroom to the Memorial Art Gallery and the George Eastman House in November. Both collections include a mix of historic and contemporary works.

“A solid field trip reinforces and supplements classroom concepts as it introduces students to places and ideas that might not normally cross their paths,” said Marlene Hamann-Whitmore, the McPherson Director of Academic Programs at the Memorial Art Gallery. “Everyone learns differently, and a field trip offers opportunities for individualized discovery within an engaging social setting.”

“It’s wonderful for the students to see the evolution of the media,” added Auer. “My students were asked to pay particular attention to pieces utilizing mixed media, especially textiles. They were very impressed with the work of artist Esther Nisenthal whose autobiographical embroidery pieces tell the story of her holocaust survival. It was wonderful that they were able to experience such powerful visual expression using techniques we have been learning in class.”

In and out of the classroom, these students are growing as artists. “I really enjoy this class. I love expressing my creativity and trying so many new techniques and materials. It’s a lot of fun!” said 11th grade Eclectic Art student Rose Hubbard.

Auer started teaching in Byron-Bergen in 1997. Over the years, she has taught fifth through twelfth grades. She also teaches Pottery and Adapted Arts for students with special needs.

Students wishing to enroll in Eclectic Arts have to first complete a studio art elective or gain teacher permission. The class rotates annually with Sculpture.

Provided information

Eclectic Arts and elementary students pose with “Monster Mash” projects. Photo by Sandy Auer

Eclectic Arts and elementary students pose with “Monster Mash” projects. Photo by Sandy Auer

Eclectic Arts class with acrylic pour paintings. Photo by Sandy Auer

Eclectic Arts class with acrylic pour paintings. Photo by Sandy Auer

Student performing acrylic pour painting technique. Photo by Sandy Auer

Student performing acrylic pour painting technique. Photo by Sandy Auer

 Student created ceramic loom. Photo by Sandy Auer


Student created ceramic loom. Photo by Sandy Auer

Found branch loom weaving. Photo by Gretchen Spittler

Found branch loom weaving. Photo by Gretchen Spittler

Ceramic loom weaving. Photo by Gretchen Spittler

Ceramic loom weaving. Photo by Gretchen Spittler

 

You must be logged in to post a comment Login