Students had thrown some of the displayed pieces on our potter’s wheels and built others by hand. They decorated their pottery using a variety of glazing techniques, including hand-painting with an overglaze, dipping pieces in glazes and letting the glaze drip, and painting layers of different glazes.
Conserve School offers three art electives: Earth Art (using natural and recycled materials to create many different types of art), Drawn to Nature (painting and drawing, with an emphasis on natural subjects), and Ceramics. Our art teachers, husband-and-wife team Nancy Schwartz and Robert Eady (also one of our science teachers), have been practicing artists for many years and, prior to their work at Conserve School, kept a pottery studio in the area.
Unfortunately, art is becoming a bit of an endangered species in the American educational system. Art is one of the first classes to be cut when finances are tight, art education is often not seen as directly related to high achievement on standardized testing, and college-bound high school students often avoid art courses, believing that colleges will deem them insufficiently intellectual and impressive.
By contrast, at Conserve School we’ve always made sure that our students have plenty of time and resources dedicated to art. While we don’t require students to take art, we encourage them to take advantage of the unique opportunity at Conserve School to study art in small classes — with skilled teachers, plentiful high-quality materials, lengthy class periods, and a focus on natural materials and subjects.
We believe that art education, in addition to improving students’ dexterity and artistic ability, deepens students’ appreciation of the natural world, broadens their understanding of culture and history, provides them with relaxation and joy, and enhances their other academic studies. Take a look at the recent article Why Arts Education is Crucial on the Edutopia website to read about educational research that links arts education with high academic achievement. As for concerns about art courses not looking impressive enough on a college application, any college admissions officer will tell you that colleges look for well-rounded students who take challenging classes, while at the same time leaving room in their schedule for artistic and athletic pursuits.
Enjoy the photographs of Ceramics students displaying, and eating lunch with, their art.
– Mary Anna