A Love of Learning grant from Simple Gifts recently sent 40 students from Hobbton High School to Greenville with their art teacher Jennifer Jackson to visit East Carolina University and the Greenville Museum of Art.
Jackson, who graduated from ECU with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, was eager to take her students out of Sampson County and expose them to a variety of art and to a college campus.
“I’m always talking about when I went to college and what I did,” noted Jackson. “I wanted to expose them to a college town and let them see what it would be like if they went and chose to major in art.”
For their visit to Greenville, the students arrived at ECU around 9:30 a.m. and toured the Jenkins Fine Art Center where they saw college students creating a variety of art including paintings, graphic designs, prints, computer animations, illustrations, ceramics, jewelry, and textiles, to name a few.
They even had the opportunity to watch one student as she worked on shaping a wooden sculpture.
“They were really taken with all the different types of art represented,” noted Jackson. “I think it really opened their eyes and showed them that there is a lot more to art than my little mobile unit can show them.”
The Hobbton students were equally interested in the tools and equipment used to make all the types of art, shared Jackson, specifically recalling their interest in the throwing wheels used for making pottery and the dark room used for developing photographs. “They were fascinated with the dark room. Since everything is digital now, I think they were surprised that it still exists.”
Visiting college classrooms was also a part of their tour. “They got to see students at work in class and could ask them questions if they wanted to,” said Jackson.
Hobbton student Estaban Hernandez mentioned that he thought it was interesting that the art students in college were reviewing the foundations of art. “They were starting from the basics, studying the color wheel.”
Jackson said that many of her students took notice of the students reviewing color wheel because that is something they have studied with her at Hobbton. “I think it showed them that even in college you study the foundations, that there are knowledge requirements for art.”
Also on the agenda was the chance to see the school’s art gallery where many art students’ work is displayed.
Hobbton student Perle Rivera pointed out that they were allowed to take pictures in the gallery.
“Yes, they let them take pictures of the art in the gallery which most galleries do not let you do,” added Jackson. “It is now inspiration for their own artwork.”
Before leaving ECU, the students ate lunch at the West End dining hall on campus. “They discovered the ice cream machine,” noted Jackson with a smile. “I think everyone ended up getting some ice cream.”
The students next stop was the Greenville Museum of Art where they visited the museum’s education building and got to work making their own artistic creations — collages. “It was impressive,” attested Jackson. “They showed them how to use different techniques to make collages.”
The students were then given a tour of the museum which is located in an old but newly renovated house. “The tour guide told them about the artwork in the museum but she also told them about the house and its history. She said that the original owners were artists,” remarked Jackson.
The exhibit on display at the museum when the Hobbton High students visited was an exhibit on love. “It was artists’ interpretations of love,” Jackson said.
“You think of love as being all happy but when you saw some of their artwork, you could tell it wasn’t all about happiness,” shared Hobbton student Erica Garcia.
Other pieces of artwork featured in the museum that caught the students’ eyes included a 6 ft. sculpture of a woman that was made of asphalt, a handmade instrument, and optical illusions by a local artist.
Jackson, herself, was taken with a particular practice at the museum. “Under each work of art, they had an envelope on the wall so that you could write a comment to the artist and leave it for them in the envelope.”
After their visit to the museum, the students headed back to Sampson County but not immediately back home. They stopped in Newton Grove and visited the Rolling Ridge Retirement Center to deliver handmade spring ornaments for its residents.
When they arrived back at school that evening around 5:30 p.m., Jackson noted that the students were tired but that the trip was a success and seemed to deepen the students’ interest in art.
“Art is everywhere around us. If we will take the time to actually see it then we will see more of it,” reflected Garcia.
“Art calms your nerves. It is good therapy,” said Hernandez.
“It was an opportunity for them to be exposed to things they normally would not get exposed to on their own,” said Jackson. “I think that going anywhere outside of Sampson County, exposing them to new things outside of what they know, is good.”
And the experience would not have been possible without Simple Gifts’ assistance. “I want to especially thank Simple Gifts for their grant, for the opportunity to take this trip,” said Jackson. “It allowed us to take the trip, to pay for the students’ lunch, to take more people.”
And Jackson readily agreed with her student Hernandez who described the grant and the trip as an experience that “opened eyes and souls.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.