Inspiring students to pursue their abilities is sometimes difficult for teachers. And for art teachers, uninspired students mean no creativity - an essential element of art.
But art teachers Kristeen Harrington and June Biggs at Spanish Fork Intermediate School have found a good method to inspire students - let them experience art from those who make a living at it."You can have class exhibits and art shows, but there's just nothing like a firsthand experience," Harrington said.
So for the second straight year, four prominent Utah artists visited the school last week and conducted seminars in their specialized fields.
Keith Hone, a former teacher at the school and now a successful woodcarver, showed students the tools and techniques used in woodcarving. Sculptor Stan Johnson demonstrated the processes involved in bronze work. Roger Davis, owner of The Duck Works pottery in Highland, showed students how to make different types of pottery. Leonard Parkin, a fantasy artist, displayed some of his works and talked about art appreciation.
And to ensure that students would be somewhat familiar with the artists, Harrington and Biggs spent the two weeks prior to the workshop discussing the work of each artist.
"It's one thing to study an artist that is dead and gone, but to learn from an artist that's alive and well is much more inspiring to the students," Harrington said.
During the workshop, more than 600 students, in groups of about 15, spent about 20 minutes with each artist. The workshop gave students the opportunity to see the entire process of art from start to finish, instead of just studying the finished product.
"This gives students the chance to see the detail that goes into each piece of work," Biggs said.
The workshop also gave the artists a chance to explain what makes art valuable and why people collect art. Students learned about the different marketing strategies used by artists.
"We always complain about people not appreciating art, but that's because they don't understand art, not because they don't like it," Davis said. "As soon as these kids start appreciating the process they can start appreciating art a whole lot more."
Davis said it's important to show students that they need to be spontaneous in their creativity. There is no right or wrong in creativity, only in processes. He said it's important to inspire students to pursue their creative abilities at an early age.
"If you guys are going to be artists, you can't be afraid to ruin something," Davis told students after damaging a pot that he was working on.
Biggs and Harrington said the workshop also gives them a chance to see new ideas at work and helps them become better instructors.
"When you get to see fresh ideas, it sparks your own imagination," Biggs said.
Besides the workshop, some of Parkin's and James Christensen's work has been on display in the school's media center. Some of the school's English classes are using the workshop and the exhibit as topics for essays.