ACP students explore art

Alexander Ramirez Garcia, Staff Writer

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The Alternative Curriculum Program at South is getting artistic, thanks to Julia Mason. 

The AlternativCurriculum Program (ACP) students are participating in an Exploratory Art class to learn about and produce art in its various forms. Mason guides ACP students, along with three paras, during their ninth period. 

The paras, Stephanie Pryal, Zachary Hillesheim and Melissa Rosenthal, who is known as  Grandma’ to students, are fantastic,” Mason said. 

The paras are support staff that assist students with their individual needs throughout class, so that Mason can focus on the lessons she is teaching. 

Mason, who is in her first year teaching at South, is teaching ACP Exploratory Art every school day, which is an adjustment from past years, during which the class was only taught a few days a week.  Mason is responsible for initiating this change. 

 “My Inspiration comes from my travels that I have done and artwork that I have seen from my travels,” Mason said.  

Mason traveled to Spain in 2017 and loves to travel whenever she can. These experiences have shaped her view of the world. 

Students and staff know that most art classes are held on the fifth floor but, since there is no available space on the fifth floor for Mason to teach Exploratory Art, she brought the class to the third floor.  

Student art is also typically displayed outside of the art classrooms, but Mason chose to display her students’ art on the third floor, near their classroom. 

I thought, since they’re mostly on that floor, they would be able to see their artwork and I want them to feel proud of what they created and to be able to show it off,” Mason said.  

Students at South may be familiar with the Exploratory Dance class that is offered, in which students explore different forms of dance and movement.  Exploratory Art is a similar concept. 

“Exploratory Art means exploring what it means to be an artist and exploring different mediums of art, not only drawing but painting, sculptures and printmaking and many different art forms,” Mason said. “Exploring different types of artists. Exploratory art has broad range. 

So far this year, Mason has introduced her students to the work of Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish architect and artist. While he was part of the Catalan Modernista Movement, he is widely renowned for his mosaic work in addition to famous landmarks in Barcelona, Spain like the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia.  

Mason worked with her students to create their own Gaudi-inspired mosaic “tiles” that now adorn the hall on the north side of the third floor. 

Also featured on the third floor is an installation of her students’ more recent work, celebrating the artist Louise Nevelson. 

Nevelson was known for her monochromatic wood sculptural installations that were presented in boxlike structures. Students incorporated everyday objects into their nested art and painted everything white, to emulate Nevelson’s style. 

The next project Mason is undertaking with her Exploratory Art class is a Georgia O’Keefe inspired nature project, incorporating natural elements, like leaves, in the art.