Self expression through the arts is an important concept at Webster City High School. Art teachers, Aaron Shirley and Jacqueline Faust, understand that, they see it every day in their classrooms, and do all they can to foster that individualized expression. The result is some amazing pieces of art.
Giving credit where it’s due, Shirley gave mention to his predecessor, Dave Niggemeyer, for creating a good foundation for what he called an “outstanding art department.”
A converted shop room “we couldn’t have a better set-up,” said Shirley. The art room has two kilns, one a RAKU kiln, making Webster City High School one of the few schools, where students are able create and complete the technique on site.
Students are learning to make things using a wheel, and how to handle the clay, Shirley said. A selection of hand formed clay shoes in various stages of completion lined a table top. Some waiting to be fired or glazed, all uniquely styled.
Students are also working on another project, according to Shirley, who said there are usually numerous projects overlapping so students can have some flexibility in what they choose to work on.
It’s all about the freedom to express themselves in their work, not just follow directions to complete an assignment.
Both Shirley and Faust give students freedom to explore the assignment and complete it in a way that reflects something of themselves. Faust said what she tries to do is facilitate exploration, giving students options.
Shirley’s students were working on a final step in using charcoal pencils, chalk or conte crayons. They were able to choose the subject matter, as long as it was metal, like pipe, or something natural such as stone, wood, bones or leaves. After creating a composition, they were able to incorporate technology by using i pads, and manipulating the image.
In Faust’s class, one assignment, a self-portrait, involved drawing themselves as someone from another tribe or culture. “They did a fantastic job,” said Faust.
Their current assignment was to create a three dimensional piece of art using anything they wanted, to learn the principals of space, background, middle ground and foreground.
For me, it’s all about them learning what’s easiest and most expressive of themselves, finding their own path, she said.