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Immersive Experiential Learning Art Program

Clark Fork Jr/Sr High School

Art is about people. This project brought together students from a remote rural North Idaho junior-senior high school and local professional artists. These professional artists came to Clark Fork Junior-Senior High School to not only instruct students in lengthy (four consecutive Fridays, all-day sessions) immersive learning experiences in their specific art medium, but to also share with students what it means to be an artist, about how to make a living as an artist, to learn about art as a career choice, and about the post-secondary education or training necessary to become a professional artist. Subsequently, these artists served as both instructors and as mentors.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

Artistic Process: Creating: Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work.

Our goal was for students participating in the Immersive Experiential-Learning Arts Program to exhibit accomplishment in the following areas:

Anchor Standard 1: “Creating—how does collaboration expand the creative process?”:

Anchor Standard 2: “Refine and completion—How do artists grow and become accomplished in art forms?”:

Anchor Standard 3: “Perceive—how does learning about art impact how we perceive the world?”

Please visit http://cfhsartstrack.blogspot.com to view an extensive photo documentation of all the artists working with the students over the course of the project, beginning in September 2016 and ending in May 2017. You will see samples of their work and their interaction with the artists, both in and out of the classroom.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

1) “Creating—how does collaboration expand the creative process?”:
• “It helped to have a different set of eyes to give you feedback that would help you to improve your art.”
• “This [collaboration] benefit our own art by realizing what people thought of it and how we could make it better.”
• “Thinking of art in new ways makes me more creative.”
• “We were able to see and understand that you can be successful even if you do all kinds of art.”

2) ”Refine and completion—How do artists grow and become accomplished in art forms?”:
• “It has influenced me to be practice…and to put my art out there!”
• “What I learned, I learned well.”
• “Not only did I learn to not do my mistakes, I learned how to do entirely new art mediums.”
• “We could find out what art styles we like and would do in the future.”

3) “Perceive—how does learning about art impact how we perceive the world?”:
• “It makes me see all the detail and to also look for the story behind the piece.”
• “Learning from the professionals made me feel more accomplished.”

Impact

The power of collaboration and the influence of acquiring a great many new ways of creating art, from professionals, impacted our students both as young artists and as human beings. They learned to look at the world with new eyes, with new perspectives, and to record their own experiences and ideas in a variety of new ways. In very practical and evident ways, they truly learned to “conceive and develop new artistic ideas and works.” In this way the program of matching high school students with local professional artists was a great success.

Thank you for your support!

Reflection

Things do not always go according to plans, even the best laid plans. The original idea to bring in professional artists, experts in varying mediums, to work with students as mentors in extensive and immersive learning experiences was a good idea. Students could not only learn a variety of new art mediums and techniques, but also get to learn about art as a potential career field. Who best to learn about art as a profession than from a professional artist? Unfortunately, the program did not have the outcome that we anticipated. Artists, even the best intentioned, are not necessarily teachers. And working with teenagers, especially those from the lower socioeconomic quintiles, is challenging. As stated above, art is about people and the human experience. In a meaningful way, the experiences of both the artists and the students in this program was very art-centric. Artists learned to work with students, students learned to work with artists; and together they learned about art and made art. It was a very dynamic environment. What worked best? Using artists that truly did have successful prior experiences working with young people. Some of our artists with the best intentions made assumptions about their abilities to teach that were not founded on experience. If we were to repeat this program, or if another organization was interested in conducting a similar program, it would be profitable to only utilize artists who did have experience teaching young people. Or even better, working with teenagers. The experiences gained in this program were useful and our students are better because of it. Our objectives were met: students learned a variety of art medias in an immersive fashion from experts and exploring art as a career field by personally interacting with folks who make their living as artists.

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