RU reaches out to high school art students

Art students from Patrick County High School in Stuart sharpened their graphic design skills at a workshop on Saturday, May 4, at Radford University.

Organized by a faculty member and students in the university's Department of Art, the one-of-a-kind event gave the high school artists access to RU's computer labs and other art facilities, as well as its personnel.

"The students are going to be working with the professional-level software programs and technology they would use in the field," said John O'Connor, assistant professor of graphic design, before the event.

After learning that, because of budget constraints, the high school had no computers for its art program, O'Connor spearheaded a campaign to remedy the situation. Teaming up with Margaret McCue of RU Facilities Management, he and colleagues in the RU Department of Art found 12 surplus tablet computers to donate to Patrick County.

Saturday's workshop, which followed up on that project, gave high school artists at various skill levels an opportunity to work with volunteers from RU's chapter of AIGA (formerly an acronym for American Institute of Graphic Arts) who supervised and guided them. The visiting students were able to print out their work and take it home as a portfolio item.

The more advanced students in the workshop worked with digital and print illustrator Zach Bush, B.F.A. '08, as an advisor.

O'Connor's first contact with the Patrick County art program was more than a year ago when teacher Tanya Mullis brought her students to campus for a tour. "I asked Tanya if they taught any digital art or graphic design at her school," he said. "It turns out they had tried to get computers to do it, but the county did not have the budget."

Mullis says many of the art students at PCHS are aware of the latest software, even if they do not yet have access to it. "Saturday's workshop is an opportunity for PCHS students to explore the technology that is available to them," she said. "It is my hope that exposure to college-level graphic design will encourage them to seek a higher education that includes this discipline."

"Working with John O’Connor and other staff members, particularly those who are responsible for gaining the equipment for us, has given my students and myself hope that our visual art department will soon be able to include graphic art in our curriculum," Mullis said.

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Art students at workshop

RU graphic design student Evan Walters works with Josh Biedrycki, left, and other students from Patrick County High School. From left are Crystal Conner, Taylor Conner, Shelby Adams, Nick Spencer and Dustin Cline.

May 6, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749