When it comes to visual arts education, lessons reach far beyond the traditional four walls of the classroom. Students are engaged in a wide variety of projects and experiences that broaden their horizons. From field trips to exciting destinations like the High Museum of Atlanta and the Savannah College of Art and Design--to hands-on projects with the community and partners overseas, GWA students do more than study art, they experience it.
The last few years have been exciting ones for the visual arts department:
• First place wins in the Dermatology Associates of Georgia art show the last two years.
• Best in show wins for the Walton County High School Art show three times for a total of $45,000 in scholarships to SCAD and an additional $7,000 for second place.
• Over the last two years, GWA AP Art students have earned 12 scores of 5, four scores of 4 and one score of 3.
• Additionally, the art department played a key role in the Vietnam Intensive last year through photography, illustration, graphic design, and sculpture.
The art department also had a leading part in the installation for the weeklong countywide exhibit and will be taking the lead in this year’s intensive. Fine arts department head, Brian Cole, who is finishing up his master’s degree in photography this fall through SCAD, said “It has always been exciting to watch students discover and learn photography, but I am really pleased to be able to offer graphic design as an elective. Graphic design is such a relevant skill to be able to use. I’d like for every student who takes this course to be able to become certified in Adobe Creative Suite.”
GWA’s sculpture program is also growing. “In sculpture, the students actually use power tools to create original works of art,” says Cole. “It is a creative way to learn to work in atypical mediums beyond two-dimensional art.”
Additionally, the art department will continue to improve its visibility throughout the school by providing artwork for the walls of GWA. According to visual arts instructor Steve Reagan. “Most recently, students created a mural and bulletin board framing in the kindergarten hallways. A sculpture garden will debut in the near future and an open sculpture studio time one afternoon a week is being considered to enable more intense study. And there’s hope for a fine arts facility for the school in the near future.”
For middle school, a new schedule has created more opportunities for students to take art. “Instead of just three periods of middle school art, we now have five periods during the school day,” said MS art teacher Megan Sims. This flexibility in scheduling allows for more students to choose art as an elective. The purpose of the middle school visual arts curriculum is to promote creative problem solving, encourage students to think independently, and to instill in them an appreciation for the arts. Students are encouraged to engage in new activities, and to conceptualize and expand upon their own original ideas. “Not only can art help children connect their feelings of self to the community and the world around them, it can also help differentiate them and provide a sense of individuality,” said Ms. Sims. “Students have opportunities to draw, paint and sculpt using a variety of mediums while also learning about artists and art throughout history and from across the globe. “
And GWA’s new lower school art teacher, Chelsea Carver has hit the ground running. For the first time, lower school art is offered twice a week for grades first through fifth. This allows students to dive deeper in to concepts which will strengthen their abilities for middle school art should they choose to continue art electives. “I hope that through art class, students will get a boost in confidence as they achieve more than they thought they could,” said Ms. Carver. “Art helps to exercise the other side of the brain and provides a well-rounded educational experience. It also has a lot to do with the world and can be used alongside other disciplines to reinforce and add to a child’s educational experience. She expressed excitement that the fine arts teachers and the teachers all over the school are “masters at their crafts.” She appreciates that these are people with amazing talent and is excited that they want to pass on their knowledge to the kids in their classes.