Program brings students back for more art lessons
Rather than spend their Sunday afternoon relaxing in the sun, a group of about 30 students gathered in the parking lot behind Oregon State University’s Fairbanks Hall to learn how to do a fairly complicated and multiple-step sculpture technique: plaster casting.
But the students weren’t eager to be elsewhere on the idyllic summer day; they’re participating in JumpstART, OSU art department’s three-week-long visual and performing arts workshop camp for high school students, and all were looking forward to learning the new skill.
“I’ve done just some rudimentary molding,” said Kevin Oyster, a 2011 graduate of Crescent Valley High School, while his group of five worked to make a plaster mold that will eventually cast a wine bottle cork.
Oyster’s group and the other students followed visiting instructor Jeremy Covert’s instructions to make the two-part mold: first, they framed the cork with a two-inch frame made from oil-based clay, then used plywood to create a box around the clay. Next, they poured a plaster mix over the clay and cork, let it dry for a few minutes, then removed the clay and repeated the process on the other side.
Once both molds have dried for about two days, Covert said the students will be able to use them to cast sculptures during open studio time later in the week.
Informally leading the group as they constructed the mold was Cassie LaBrasseur of Corvallis, who attended JumpstART last summer.
Why did she want to come back?
“I got a scholarship,” LaBrasseur said. “And, I loved it.”
Coming back to participate in JumpstART is a trend among many students in the program’s 16-year history, even for director Nathan Langner. He attended the workshop as a high school student in 1995, then served as a resident and teaching assistant while earning his bachelor’s degree at OSU. He also served as an instructor for the workshop before being hired by OSU’s art department last year to teach classes and run the JumpstART program.
While students are actually participating in the program, however, they get what Langner calls a valuable “three-week college experience”: they stay in Weatherford Hall and take two three-hour workshop classes each day taught by professors from OSU and nearby colleges as well as master’s students.
For the 33 students who made it to JumpstART after a competitive application process (a handful were missing from Sunday’s plaster mold lesson due to illness), the time spent working with a variety of instructors teaches the young artists about potential career paths, and the final nine-piece portfolio can be used applying to college-level art programs.
The program also awards students with scholarships to return the following summer — which was the case for LaBrasseur — or scholarships to OSU’s art program in the case of seniors.
When Oyster and LaBrasseur’s group was asked what they thought of JumpstART, they all responded with a collective “It’s awesome.” However, many weren’t ready to begin their final week.
“It’s ending too soon,” Oyster said.
Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.