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Art Independent Study: A Home for Artistic Freedom

By Lulu Diffenbaugh


Photo By Audrey Cutler

   During the chaos and noise of lunch at Pinewood, a small group of students make their way to the art room for art independent study. Through an inclusive environment for experienced and inexperienced artists, this class offers time for feedback, experimentation, and creative designs. Students are able to focus more on improving self-selected techniques – instead of following a restrictive curriculum.    

   Art teacher Caitlin Miller provides basic skill lessons and projects that occur every month or two with assigned themes like fantasy, paradox, and stories. After deciding how they want to manifest the theme through their work, students choose their media and start working on their projects. Miller then gives immediate feedback and directs students to new techniques she thinks they would enjoy.

   “This class is very individualized to the students in terms of what they want to make. In previous semesters, I chose a theme and had students create work that adhered to that theme, but it would always be a very broad theme, and they could choose any material and subject matter and process,” Miller said.

   With only nine students in the class, there is a lot of peer guidance and collaboration in order to maximize growth as artists. Sophomore Emily Takara enjoys the collaboration and brainstorming the class does together.

   “It’s cool because you get to create your own project[s] and ideas, but it’s not just you figuring it out alone. You get advice and you can see other people’s designs and ideas,” Takara said.

This semester, Miller is taking the class in a different direction. As requested by many students, she is taking some time for skill-building classes.

   “I just asked the students what they wanted to do, and a lot of them wanted to work on some skill building things, so that’s what we are doing right now before we jump into the theme-based projects,” Miller said. Because of the individualized structure, Miller can easily adjust the curriculum. Students can give their own input, resulting in a class with choice, advice, and a relaxing environment.

   “[I like] the ability to experiment with art without having to worry about [my] grades and specific techniques – you just kinda get to explore,” sophomore Arina Oberoi said.

   Art Independent Study offers students of all levels and abilities the opportunity to grow and learn in a classroom full of eager students, materials, and ideas. By pursuing their own independent activities, these aspiring artists are able to explore their love of art and collaborate with their peers.