Art students continue to develop their skills despite pandemic challenges

Sarah Augustine, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Clay students work at the wheel while using their various learned techniques. (Sarah Augustine)

WHS art classes have continued to meet despite COVID limitations, and various adaptations have been made in order to keep students safe during the creative process. 

Art teacher and director Christopher Fehl believes that art classes have been outlets for students to escape the outside world. 

I think art has been a sanctuary for students during this pandemic. I can see it in the commitment to craft in the studio and in the enthusiastic participation in Zoom sessions,” Fehl stated. “I’m glad to be able to share with my students my love for art and see it nurture them through these difficult times.”

Senior Caroline Schuckel, who is enrolled in Clay I and participates in a graphic design independent study, has thoroughly enjoyed her mug project in the clay course and looks forward to trying out the wheel. 

“I choose to take art classes because I think it is relaxing and enjoyable, and I would rather be doing [art] than sitting in a study hall,” Schuckel explained. 

Sophomore Erik Lambert, who is enrolled in Photo II, is also very passionate about art and believes there are benefits to the new art class layout. 

“I do not feel that the current challenges inhibit my learning in this class, in fact, the lack of direct instruction gives me more freedom for creative interpretations of my assignments,” Lambert said.“Being at home gives us access to more environments than if we were limited to school. We can take our cameras out into our neighborhoods and beyond.”

 Schuckel sees the advantages of new learning circumstances as well. 

“I like that we are allowed to use class time to primarily be working on projects. It is really nice to feel like class time is being used productively because there are some things we cannot do at home,” Schuckel noted. 

Similarly to Lambert and Schuckel, Fehl believes the change in class size has assisted students in their learning and safety. 

“It is much easier to help every student when there are only 7-9 students in a class. With only 9 students in the art rooms at any given time, we have not had too much difficulty giving students 6 feet of personal space,” Fehl said. 

    However, according to Fehl, not all aspects of the pandemic changes have been easy to adapt to in his art classes. Regardless of the changes, Fehl has found a way to continue to let his students explore and enjoy their creativity and imaginations. 

    “Clay and Art 1-4 (drawing/painting) classes require more time to access studio-specific materials and tools. We have created art and clay kits for students to work at home, which theoretically doubles the number of classes we have to work with clay,” Fehl stated. 

    In general, Lambert believes that these art classes have high levels of benefit to all areas of his life.

“Art classes encourage you to think of creative solutions and unique ways to frame or reframe a concept or idea. Prompting students to ask their own questions and look for solutions is applicable to any discipline,” Lambert stated.  

    Fehl has seen these benefits when working with his students. Specifically, Fehl believes art helps students connect to the world around them, and speaks about his hopes for his art students this school year and beyond. 

“I want them to realize they have artistic skill and with practice, they can make beautiful and satisfying art pieces. I want them to understand what goes into the making of art so they are supporters of (fellow) artists throughout their lives.”