Rarely do they get to screen-print fabrics, carve wood on a lathe, experiment with clay and see glassblowing and metalworking demonstrations all at once.
More than a dozen high school students from Jackson, Smyrna, Crossville, Cleveland, Cross Plains and Lebanon recently had the chance to do all that, and to experience life on a college campus, at the Appalachian Center for Craft at Tennessee Tech University.
“In the high schools, a lot of them don’t have access to the three-dimensional art, the clay, the wood,” said Craft Center director Jeffrey Adams. “It’s a chance for them to come in and work like an artist and hopefully come back as students.”
The students, and their art teachers, were invited to the Craft Center for an all-expenses-paid two-week residency. Each teacher selected two talented students to bring with them for the program, which was funded by a grant from the Windgate Foundation.
“Financially, I don't have a lot of opportunities to do things like this,” said Brouguelle Deck, a senior at Stone Memorial High School in Crossville. “I’ve worked with clay a lot, but I’ve never worked with wood before. I hear I’m a natural with the lathe, which I didn’t think I would be.”
“It’s something I’ve never tried before, so it’s fun.”
At the beginning of the residency, students got a look at a block of poplar. The next day, they started turning, cutting and sanding the wood to turn the piece into a box with drawers.
“I’ve never had to come up with ideas so quickly,” said Paige Warner, a senior at Walker Valley High School in Cleveland. “I feel like I’m stretching my limits. Usually, before I start something, I do research and come up with my ideas slowly. This is just, ‘Here, this is what we’re doing. Go.’”
The students and their teachers spent half a day in each the clay and wood studios. Craft Center faculty and artists in residence gave guidance to offer a taste of what life is like for professional artists.
Though the grant funding has run out, Adams says he hopes to continue these kinds of outreach programs for art students and the community.
“Our bachelor in fine arts program is what we’re all about,” said Adams, who came to the Craft Center this spring. “We want everyone to know we’re here, and we’ve got a lot of ideas and a lot of energy.”
In addition to Warner, art teacher Amanda Wilson and student Lacie Faulkner lived at TTU’s Craft Center to participate in the residency program.
Art teacher April Grooms and student Sahina Irvin from Lebanon’s Wilson Central High School participated in the residency program.
Jackson’s Liberty Technology Magnet High School sent art teacher Belinda Patterson and students Jenetta Fisher and Haylee Herndon to participate in the Craft Center residency program.
East Robertson High School art teacher Jennifer Wolfe and students Jessica Rose and Breanna Miller left Cross Plains to spend two weeks honing their creativity in the Craft Center residency program.
Deck’s fellow student Daphni Wetzlich and Stone Memorial High School art teacher Dale Torri-Safdie came to the Craft Center’s residency program. Fellow Crossville residents Ashley Bolin, K.J. Smith and Annette Saldana, an art teacher at Cumberland County High School, participated as well.
From Smyrna High School, art teacher Cara Young and students Daisy Sanchez and Eric Storelli spent two weeks at the Craft Center for the residency program.