Alice Hwang ’22
Starting this academic year a new art elective course, Practical Design and Production, has been added to the numerous art offerings. This stage class encourages students to take time away from the traditional academic art experience and create a space where they can be creative without limits and experiment with a range of materials and techniques. This course has been garnering positive comments from its first students because it gives them the opportunity to experience what happens behind the stage for shows in production.
Alice Hwang 22’, a current enrollee, spoke with assistant director of the Burgin Center for the Arts and course designer Kelly Dowling. “So much of what students do in classes at Mercersburg Academy is theoretical and academic. I love that this class challenges students to marry their ideas with actual tangible items that they will create with their own two hands. I also love that everyone ends up doing something outside of their comfort zone!” says Dowling.
One of the first class projects was to draw inspiration from an indigenous culture or a show or movie and re-create an outfit using material that is easily attained and common among students. The students impressed Dowling with their pieces “I’m always amazed at how my students manipulate their found materials. This term’s students really went the extra mile with adding decorative details and using multiple materials to create a single textile,” said Dowling.
Dowling added, “I love that in Practical Design and Production I can challenge students to rethink who is and is not ‘creative’ or ‘good at’ drawing, painting, tools, etc. I feel really strongly that EVERYONE is creative and can be as great as they want to be at applying that creativity. You just have to use the tools available to you, practice, and train your brain to make interesting connections between all the reference material we are exposed to every day.”
Practical design and production seems to be the right course for many students wishing to learn the tools of design and put their efforts toward an actual production.