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AAI master classes

Arcata Arts Institute masterclasses have been fueling students’ creative sides since the beginning of the program back in 2006. Masterclasses started off as an after-school figure drawing class, taught by Joyce Jonte, then went on to become part of the school day about eight years ago. AAI currently offers masterclasses in linoleum printing, graphic design, aerial dance, theater stagecraft, oil painting, metal sculpture, and sewing 101 during the 6th period every Wednesday.

Director of the Arcata Arts Institute, Johanna Mauro, said that the selection of these classes has been based on student interest over the years. For example, mural, a previously popular class, didn’t have enough sign-ups to keep up this semester. This reflects the way the masterclasses strive to balance “student interests with the availability of a teacher, and also just sort of what we think, you know, the curriculum should be in an art program,” Mauro said.

Owen Peterson painting (Tim Clewell)

“The idea of masterclasses is something called work-based learning, which is part of a career technical education or CTE program. And so we want to bring professional artists, working artists from the community, into our program to give students experience with people who are knowledgeable in the industry,” Mauro said. 

The benefits of this program are numerous. Students can even find internships through the program. “They’re meeting people in industry, they’re making those connections,” Mauro said. Due to such opportunities and the dedication of staff to student learning, AAI is recognized by the state as a model demonstration site of a high-quality art program for career technical education, arts, media, and entertainment.

Carolyn van Mantgem on silks (Tim Clewell)

Senior Reece Dickinson said the program has expanded his previous art knowledge, allowing him to go further with what he knows how to do. 

Dickinson is in the linoleum printing program and said the class helps him “to meet with new people, kind of think about new types of mediums, [and] new ways of doing my art.” In the class’s first project, printing “something that bugs you,” Dickinson described how interesting the process was. He used an old drawing and, “actually carved out the opposite of what [he] did in the sketch,” essentially creating a stamp you can reuse. He says, “It’s almost like creating an original, that creates more.”

Dickinson encourages all kids, from any sort of aspect of life, to join AAI, whether they’ve been creating for years, or are just starting their art journey. “It is a very good way to communicate, not only with people but your own, I guess, your own unconsciousness in a way. You can explore things you might not have previously been able to,” Dickinson said.
Masterclasses are also a great way for students with previous experience to practice assorted art forms. Malia Wolven, a junior and recent transfer student at AHS has been sewing since she was little and is now part of sewing 101. Wolven’s favorite part of the class is, “Just being in an environment where everyone else is working on sewing, and coming up with ideas and designs.” She also enjoys, “Being around people that also have that creative mind.” The program is one of her main motivators in going to school. “It’s always nice to have AAI at the end of the day because you get to go do something you love,” Wolven said. 

Junior Sionna Khattab, a part of the graphic design program, appreciates that these classes can have real job applications. “There’s a lot of upcoming careers in graphic design, I don’t know, I’ve always kind of been interested in it. Maybe I’ll carry it over into something in college,” Khattab said. Although she currently views it as more of a hobby, she could see herself using it in the future, calling it, “a cool skill to have.” 

Clyde Sundeen practicing welding

Senior Erika Homan is taking the oil painting masterclass, a medium she’s never before worked with. She likes “getting to explore different ways that you can, like go about painting, because I’ve never done like, black and whites before. And I thought that was a really cool way to learn about values.” A big theme in AAI is exploration. “Even if you’re in AAI theater or AAI music, you can do art too. Or like, if you’re in art you can do stagecraft, and you can just explore all options of art,” Homan said.

The masterclass programs are a great way to build your art skills and connect with the creative community on campus. 

“I think that oftentimes students find a place of community within the art program, they find like-minded students, so that’s really important,” Mauro said. AAI is truly a unique program where students gain experience while “having a chance to really develop their passion.”

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About the Contributor
Violet Fogg
Violet Fogg, A&E Section Editor
Violet Fogg is a 12th-grade student who enjoys expressing her creativity through art and writing. She has been writing creatively since primary and middle school, notably projects such as “Bread Cats” and “Gremlins” (co-written alongside friends and mostly done in the medium of gel pens). She has had experience in academic writing throughout high school, finding herself most proficient in creative and fictional writing. She also enjoys nonfiction writing and likes broadening her knowledge through this sort of reading. She likes authors such as David Sedaris, who combines short essays and memoirs with a comedic aspect. She plans to investigate areas of student interest around the school and pay specific attention to differing opinions and ideas brought up on campus.
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