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June 2012
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Art school provides unique chance to learn

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The Paducah School of Art and Design is working to introduce high school students to the many benefits of staying local to pursue an education in the arts.

In the fall semester, the school began a Saturday Intensive Program for local high school students interested in learning more about one of four disciplines - jewelry and metals, figure and portrait drawing, digital photography and ceramics. Classes over four consecutive Saturdays are simulated in a community college classroom environment with a lecture, demonstration, students actively working and then taking home a completed product, according to school dean Paul Aho.

"These classes provide an opportunity for students to see what we have to offer with our facilities and curriculum," he said. "We want to open people's eyes about how the college serves the community."

He said the programs, which faculty members or the current artist in residence teach, had good enrollment of about eight students per class for the inaugural program: a jewelry and metal workshop held over four weeks in October and November.

"We are always trying to provide a bigger experience and are working to continue outreach and recruiting initiatives to introduce more people to the programs that we offer," he said. "The classes are modeled on the real college experience."

The Saturday classes are an extension of the precollege summer art program, which in its fourth year has been filled to capacity. The college has future plans to offer evening and expanded Saturday instruction for adults and community members. The school has two specific demographics, including those active in the LowerTown art scene and high school students looking for the two-year college experience before continuing on to a four-year program, according to Aho.

"Certainly our mission is to serve the surrounding region," he said. "Our mission as a community college is to provide a comparative education in the arts that saves students money."

Sarah Renshaw, adjunct professor of jewelry and metals, who taught the first seminar, said interest in the class spread from the students to their parents, several of whom also joined. She said the classes were extended to an extra Saturday due to the positive response from the participants.

"Everyone was excited to take the class and just having so much fun making things," she said.

The classes also allow a broader introduction to the college for high school students considering staying in the Paducah area and others just interested in learning more about a specific artist interest, Renshaw said.

"We really want the community to know about what we are offering at the college and this is an affordable way to learn one or more specialties," she said.

The Saturday Intensive Program is set from 9 a.m. to noon on four consecutive Saturdays for one subject area. Upcoming classes include digital photography taught by Aho on Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan. 25 and Feb. 1., ceramics with instructor and 2013-2014 artist in residence CJ Niehaus on Feb. 8, Feb. 15, Feb. 22 and March 1 and figure and portrait drawing taught by associate professor Randy Simmons on March 8, March 15, March 22 and March 29. The photography and drawing classes will be held at 409 Broadway and the ceramics class will be in Madison Hall.

Registration is open to the first 16 students who sign up at a cost of $20 for the four-week course, which includes materials. For more information, contact Liz Dodd, art and design school division assistant, at 270-408-4278.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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