Back To School, Everyone!
Posted August 2012
Isn’t it amazing how quickly this summer has gone by? LSUA is now on the short break between the summer session and the beginning of the fall semester. Having taught summer school this year, it is a welcome reprieve; and yet, I am anxious to greet the new students who will be taking art courses in this coming semester.
I’ve been teaching at LSUA for a long time, and each school opening I find myself catching up with familiar returning students and greeting the new faces that I have not taught before. Years ago, we used to have what was called the “non-traditional” student. This was an individual who was returning to college after a successful career, often retired, and wanting to continue the lifelong learning process. Most of them were over 60. I was younger then and I enjoyed their mature and experienced perspective on life and learning. So did the college-aged students. There was a natural rapport that developed between the two groups and both benefited from the exchange. These older students found new exploration into the arts, usually in studio courses such as ceramics, painting, or photography. Often it led to further study in art history.
Today’s non-traditional student is younger, getting a later start on higher education after working a few years or establishing a family. They come to us with the same level of enthusiasm, if not of experience. They are often more stressed, trying to combine going back into school while raising children or continuing to work. Those of us in academia have been where they are. Yes, we were fresh out of high school without the same type of stress, but stressed nonetheless! We didn’t have the privilege of doing learning after having pursued a different type of career, but worked toward planned career goals. I wish I had known then what I know now about all those “Will it matter in 20 years?” issues.
I have not seen many older students in recent years (and by older, I refer to the earlier category of 50+.) It makes me wonder why more senior citizens do not return to the university setting to pursue a new avenue of learning. Old is now the new young, and many people who have retired are in the prime of life. Have we put so much cultural emphasis on youth that our older, more experienced citizens shy away from academic settings? Is “school” now considered only for the young? I believe that it would be sad indeed if this is true. As for me, I would have stayed in college all my adult life if that had been financially possible!
These considerations lead me to offer a blanket invitation, in fact a challenge, to all of you who have completed your careers and yet do not want to become a “retired” person. This is the time in your life when you can afford to indulge yourself, both monetarily and time-wise, in a new and exciting pursuit. My invitation extends to young adults as well. Many follow flexible work schedules now. Some have their children in school and do not work outside the home. Why not enroll in a university course this fall? In fact, why not take an art course?
My invitation extends to high school students who are nearing graduation. Dual enrollment is now available whereby a student can be registered both in the high school to complete required courses and in the university to complete new courses for a degree program. If you are such a student, talk to your guidance counselor. This may be a real possibility for you and a significant “heads-up” toward college.
As I have mentioned in numerous articles, the LSUA art facilities are now located in our new MPAC Building. This fall, I will be teaching both ceramics and film photography. Both courses are open to anyone, regular students pursuing a degree, high school students who are preparing to enter the university, and those who simply would like to explore a studio art.
The ceramics studio has beautiful Shimpo potters’ wheels. We study both hand building and wheel throwing. Pieces are fired in electric, gas, and raku kilns, located both inside and outside the studio. Each student is assigned his/her own area to work on an individual basis. Different methods of building and glazing are taught and we produce both functional and artistic pottery. If you visit the MPAC Building, you can see the results of last semester’s class in the first-floor display cases. There you will find flutes, ocarinas, face pots, and functional ware.
The film photography studio is equipped with individual work stations. Each station contains an enlarger and all the necessary equipment for producing and developing the finished photograph. We study the different methods of tinting, hand coloring, matting, and presenting the art photograph. Those who know me know that I am an avid promoter of film for art photography. Not to dismiss digital pictures; I often use a digital camera for capturing events and places. But I stand by my belief that only through film can one truly produce a quality art photograph. Students leave the classroom to find their subjects elsewhere and we see some very interesting finished images. Each one works at his/her own pace and there is a degree of freedom in subject matter and method of finishing. I am especially interested in hand-coloring, so we explore the concept of the painting-quality photograph. We engage in a lively exchange of ideas and information as we capture our world, both far and near.
Both ceramics and photography are stress-free courses. There are no tests. No one is called up to “present.” Each one works within one’s own ability. But while they are stress-free, they are challenging and motivating courses. Students are able to bounce ideas off of one another and to learn from each other. The blending of varying ages of participants leads to a learning experience that can be life changing!
In the photos presented here, you can see our facilities. Again, I emphasize that all are welcome to pursue art courses at LSUA. There is still time to register for any of these courses. Ceramics (FIAR 1661/1662) will meet on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00am to 10:50am. Film Photography (FIAR 2995/2996) will meet on the same days from 1:00pm to 2:40pm. Both classes are held in the MPAC Building on the first floor. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more information, or feel free to call the LSUA Office of Admissions at (318) 473-6417. Since we are currently on break, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the fall semester.