This summer, a group of high school students had the opportunity to learn from experienced UF School of Art + Art History (SA+AH) instructors and showcase their works in a public, group exhibition. Their final exhibition was held at the Harn Museum of Art on June 22.
Seven students enrolled in the first annual SA+AH Summer Pre-College Program. This year, the three-week-long program allowed students to concentrate on one of two sections: Placemaking: Painting + Drawing Beyond the Studio or Exploding Views: Digital Fabrication for Artists.
Logan Marconi (MFA Art ‘13), the instructor for the Painting + Drawing section, explained that the purpose of his class was to get students to think carefully about place and environment and the feelings those elements evoke through art.
“It wasn’t just based on what they saw, but also how they experienced the environment,” Marconi said.
Students went on dérives, or unplanned journeys, across the UF campus. After these long walks and getting their basic drawings down, they came back to the studio to experiment further with line, form and color.
“I hope students walk away from the class with a sense of freedom and a willingness to fail but also be encouraged to take risks,” Marconi said.
The classroom or studio environment for both sections encouraged students to work freely and creatively.
“I think all of us had a good rapport in the classroom,” said Kevin Mahoney, one of the teaching assistants. “It was a relaxed and dedicated work environment in the studio. Everyone was really open and free to experiment with whatever kind of materials or style of painting they wanted.”
While walking through the exhibition, one could hear the humming of a 3-D printer on a table. Plexiglass works sat on the table representing the faces of original character designs.
Adrien Norwood, a Buchholz High School student, produced these unique 3-D printed artworks during the program’s Digital Fabrication class taught by Ernie Williams.
“One thing I really gained from the class is confidence,” Norwood said. “Now, I have the confidence to really move forward in my works.”
The Pre-College Program also helped students solidify their plans to pursue art school in the future.
Portia, a 17-year-old Stanton College Preparatory School student, said the program has helped with her decision in applying to art programs at colleges and universities, including UF. She plans to study graphic design.
Jacob Robinson, a 19-year-old Williston High School student, said that taking college-level studio courses has helped him excel and produce a variety of works.
“I look forward to finishing my AA degree at Santa Fe College and then transferring to UF to major in digital arts and sciences,” Robinson said.
Anthea Behm, assistant professor in photography at SA+AH and one of the key coordinators for the Pre-College Program, sees potential for the program to grow.
“We are looking to build the program by getting more funding to offer more scholarships for students,” Behm said. “It’s important to accommodate families and their needs to give students access to the program.”
Lynn Tomaszewski, director of SA+AH and the administrator for the pre-college program, envisions the program connecting the university to the region in meaningful ways.
“I think the most successful part of this first session is that it opened up our university to students from around the region,” Tomaszewski said. “High school students who take 90-hour art classes are serious. They’re going to be successful. Whether they go to UF or not, students in the program leave with a positive college-level experience that they take with them.”