Online Art Classes Offer Outlet for Students

A typical day for a student taking an art class at M-A this semester is relatively independent and similar to in-person class. Lupe Lavaka, a junior at M-A, explained how her Ceramics I class, taught by Silvia Torres, typically starts “by discussing what we are going to do with the clay, and she shows us how, then lets us work with the clay on our own.” Ceramic students are provided with the clay, which they pick up at M-A. 

Mark Leeper, teaches Wood I, II & III and Architectural Design I & II at M-A, where the majority of work is hands-on. Leeper has his students “currently focusing on freehand sketching when we would normally be using drafting tools to create our drawings.”

Online art classes have allowed students to express themselves and ease stress during a global pandemic. Senior Emily McMacster said, “Having an art class during distance learning has been a great outlet for me.” Junior Alexandra Lopez agreed, saying, “I like my art class because it’s really chill.” 

Senior William Dennis remarked that one of his favorite parts of taking Architecture I so far has been that “it allows me to relax a bit after more stressful classes and it can be kind of therapeutic to watch as my sketches come together.”

While students reported having relaxed experiences with their art classes so far, the planning that occurs off-screen is not as glamorous.

Visual & Performing Arts Department Head, Michael Tillson, said, “I spent 20 to 30 hours of my own unpaid time before the school year started to go to M-A, wearing a mask in 90+ degree temperatures, with doors and windows closed, to put together art materials for all of my students in each of my classes and levels.”

Tillson stated, “Art supplies for all art classes, mine as well as the ceramics and photo classes, are supplied to the students, just as they would be for on-campus classes.”

However, not all of M-A’s art classes are able to provide students with supplies at home as they would for in-person school. Sarah Frivold, Digital Photo & Design teacher, Sarah Frivold, Digital Photo & Design teacher, has not been able to provide DSLR cameras for the six periods she teaches that need them. Instead, she has resorted to using cell phone cameras. Frivold “always tells students” a quote by the famous photographer Chase Jarvis: “the best camera is the one with you.”

Tilson has managed to sustain an artistic environment in his Zoom classes by displaying “artist easels from my classroom at M-A set up in my dining room in my home.” 

Despite the heavy planning occurring off-screen, the excitement to teach a creative subject remains strong. Frivold said, “I am so impressed with my students this year!” and “I miss really getting to know my students: their style, mood, friends, voices, the small talks, and beginning of class chit chat..”

Brianna Aguayo is a senior and an Editor-in-Chief of the M-A Chronicle. She enjoys writing culture and research-heavy stories about social justice issues affecting M-A students. She also translates several articles into Spanish to make them accessible for all. Brianna manages the Chronicle's Instagram, keeping M-A students and community members on the loop for new stories. In her free time, Brianna likes to bake different recipes, read, hike, and spend time with friends and family.

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