Art classes add fun and relaxation to your day

Senior Charlotte Stephan created this banana split for her Whats on your plate? project.

Senior Charlotte Stephan created this banana split for her “What’s on your plate?” project.

For senior Tori Bates, it isn’t an uncommon occurrence for art teacher Grace Stynes to walk in on her doing something out of the ordinary during her art independent study hour.

“For me, doing an independent study, I [am] alone a lot of the time,” Tori said. “Sometimes, Ms. Stynes [will] walk in on me doing really weird things, like [wheel] throwing with my eyes closed and stuff like that.”

Tori has been taking an art class since her sophomore year, and she has had a passion for art ever since, particularly, for sculpture and ceramics. She has participated in levels one through AP art as an independent study, which is where she is now.

At FHC, there are many benefits of taking an art class. Tori recognizes this and believes that one of the most important aspects is that there is always something to work on when it comes to art. 

“I love no matter how good you get at something in art, you can always be better at it,” Tori said. “I love that I’m constantly being pushed to try new things and to get better. And no matter what, there’s always something else I can try to fix and improve on. I really like that Mrs. Stynes meets me where I’m at but always sets a goal a little bit higher to make sure that I’m always pushing myself to become better.”

This tactic appears to have worked, as Tori is excellent at what she does.

The chance to take an art class is a privilege that not all schools offer. In Tori’s opinion, all students should take advantage of the opportunity presented.

“Honestly, I think everybody should try to take an art class at least once because they’re so fun,” Tori said. “I feel like you don’t really know if you like it or not until you try it. I didn’t really know if I liked ceramics or not until I tried it in middle school. And that’s when I was like, ‘This is awesome, this is what I want to do.’ I feel like everybody should try it and see.”

Honestly, I think everybody should try to take an art class at least once because they’re so fun.

— Tori Bates

Tori now has close to four years of experience with ceramics and is extremely glad that she decided to take it in the first place.

Freshman Addison Zint is in sculpture and ceramics, as well, though she is in the first level. She appreciates the exciting, calm environment that comes with taking an art class.

“[Art class] is a place to relax and put your mind on something else while in school,” Addison said. “During class, it definitely [has] a positive environment, [and] it’s fun. Everyone [is] working and [can] take a break from reality. [We] focus on our [own] interests.”

Although it can be difficult to find a class where enjoyment and pleasure are some of the main points of the hour, it is clear that those two feelings are prioritized in art class at FHC.

The fun environment is only part of the appeal for Addison. An art class is also a great way to break up her busy school day. 

“It’s a way to be free and relax in the day,” Addison said. “[We] have that moment to ourselves, and [we] meet a lot of new people you wouldn’t normally meet and really click with people and talk and chill out.”

As a freshman new to high school, the chance to meet new people can be critical for making friends. Stynes has been witnessing this process of forming lasting friendships through art ever since she started teaching.

Stynes has been an art teacher for nine years. Although, she says that her real start to teaching was when she taught beginner’s tap dance to four and five-year-olds while in high school. 

FHC is filled with many talented students, whether they are gifted in art, music, or academics. Stynes recognizes this and wants everyone to feel welcome in the art community.

“There are students who I know will always feel comfortable coming down to the art room and taking art,” Stynes said. “They are not scared of it. But I would say to the kids who are worried that they can’t draw, or they don’t know how to sculpt, maybe you don’t yet, but you haven’t learned it. Your math teachers don’t expect you, coming into algebra, to know how to do algebra. I don’t expect you coming into art to know how to do everything; I’m going to help you get there.”

Each class can only be as good as the teacher in charge, and clearly, Stynes makes an effort to be welcoming and helpful to every one of her students. And, just like her students Tori and Addison, Stynes genuinely adores going to art class every day. 

“My goal is to always have a good time when we’re together,” Stynes said. “If I’ve laughed during the day with my students, and if we’ve tried something new, we’ve had a successful day. Taking an art class is like an adventure that you get to direct, but I’m going to teach you new things you’ve never done before.”