Higher level art class provides unique voice for students


Jacob Khalil

A graphic created by junior Jacob Khalil of the IB visual arts class.

Students sketch using watercolors and pens on canvases and design pro- grams on computers as a soft but energetic piano melody crescendos in the background. The relaxed atmosphere in Jerod Schmidt’s IB visual arts classroom helps students produce work in individual and independent styles.

IB visual arts is a self-directed two-year arts class that focuses on helping students create original artwork. Students can submit their artwork as part of their college applications.

“One of the biggest misunderstandings is that people have to be great painters or [illustrators] to take this class,” said Schmidt, one of the two teachers of the class along with Coren Rau. “But your focus can be ceramics, digital art, photography. You make it whatever it is.”

Schmidt teaches the first year of the two-year visual arts program. Rau over- sees second-year students. These students will display their work at a visual arts exhibition in Lincoln starting April 5.

“We’re really asking [students] to look at work outside of their own bubble; look at work from different cultural contexts, time periods, and really critically examine that and make connections to their own experiences,” said Rau. “There’s a lot of space in this class for people to investigate what they care about and develop work that’s meaningful to them.”

The teachers encourage students enrolled in the class to create artwork relevant outside of the class.

“Everything you make in here should be in the context of what’s happening in the art world,” said Schmidt. “Because of that, everything has to be kind of research-based.”

Schmidt believes that this allows students to gain an appreciation for art.

“I hope students get out of it a little snapshot of what being a professional artist looks like,” he said. “Pretty much all of the components [of the class] are exactly what any artist has to do. It’s not just about making work; it’s about making work that means something and has a relation to society.”

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