Fresh canvas: New expansion impacts art department

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By Maya Shah, Photography Editor When the art department moved into their new studio provided by the recent expansion project, they never expected to face key problems nearing the end of November. Despite the addition of new spaces, several issues still need resolving.  After moving the kilns from the old art rooms to the new...

By Maya Shah, Photography Editor

When the art department moved into their new studio provided by the recent expansion project, they never expected to face key problems nearing the end of November. Despite the addition of new spaces, several issues still need resolving. 

After moving the kilns from the old art rooms to the new studios, the art teachers discovered that many of the machines were broken. Given supply chain issues, ordering new parts from specialized manufacturers has been a slow process. Working with a local company has luckily allowed for some repairs on the broken kilns as well as the installation of a new one. The department is still waiting on some parts for the exhaust and ventilation system as well as new kilns, which are not set to arrive until next year. Studio Art 2 teacher Joanne Wagner describes the process.

“There’s always growing pains when you move studios, because there’s so much expensive equipment that’s involved,” Wagner said. “It took some time, but we’re getting there.”

Although the problem is on its way to being fixed, it has affected other parts of the classroom. The district has not made any curriculum changes to accommodate for the equipment deficiency, so students have carried on with their clay projects. This means students are unable to fully complete their projects as they cannot fire or glaze them, however they are still creating projects following a normal timetable. Art student and sophomore Ally Mao feels that the lack of kilns has negatively impacted her class.

“We’re already on our third sculpture, but all our previous projects are just sitting in the classrooms taking up space, so we’re not able to glaze or finish them, it’s really sad,” Mao said. 

The lack of space has also become a problem within the art classrooms. Although the department gained new storage spaces in the expansion, it is not enough to accomodate for all of the clay projects that have yet to be fired. The department is making the most out of its current storage facilities, but after filling up most closets, they are turning to student lockers and unused countertops to store remaining projects

“It’s getting here, everything is just slowed down by the pandemic,” Wagner said. “Luckily, my students are artists — they’re really resilient.”

Despite the issues that have arisen, moving to a specially-designated wing brought much improvement to the art classes; each classroom is now larger and more clearly prepared to handle specific courses. While previously, there was no proper sculpture studio, now the space is designated for that function. Art department chair Amy Cruz is optimistic about the improvements.

“Before it was sort of like Tetris, fitting the (art) classes in the amount of rooms that we had,” Cruz said. “So now we’re hoping students will really enjoy us all being together.”

Additionally, art classrooms now have new equipment, more display spaces, new furniture and can see students through the atrium windows without the burden of noise. The addition of an extra studio has also made scheduling among all the art classes easier, especially with the increasing enrollment. Cruz recognizes these benefits, and despite the problems that have occurred, remains thankful.

“I know students are so excited to have their work fired,” Cruz said. “When you’re taking a class like that you really just want your product. (The students are) being so patient, and we’re grateful.”


Maya Shah can be reached at [email protected]

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