The Arts Department is an integral part of who Leesville is. Overall arts classes include dance, band, chorus, and theatre. The most familiar though, is the visual arts classes. Students in visual arts create projects to hang up around the school, as well as the senior wall created by AP art students.
The Visual Arts classes offered at Leesville include Visual Arts I, II, and III (Honors), IV (Honors), and AP Studio Design, which is only available to seniors. Here at Leesville, Visual Arts I and II are taught by Ms. Meeks, and Visual Arts III, IV, and AP Studio Design are taught by Mr. Patterson. Although both teachers are loved by students, Ms. Meeks is a favorite art teacher to many.
Ms. Meeks found her passion for art as a child. “I enjoyed art from a young age but I was fortunate to be able to develop my skills in more structured educational environments,” said Ms. Meeks. “I found my passion for art in the Sanderson High School arts program. Becoming an art teacher seemed like a natural marriage of my passions.”
After graduating from Appalachian State, Ms. Meeks taught at Avery County School and Charlotte Mecklenburg School before beginning teaching at Leesville in 2015.
Kate Hock, a sophomore, is currently taking her first Visual Arts class with Ms. Meeks. “I absolutely love her class. She’s always ready to help us and I’ve never seen her look down upon someone or judge a student’s work, she knows we are all learning,” said Hock.
Depending on what level of Visual Arts a student is taking, projects will be different in skill and technique. But overall, projects will still focus on improving and increasing a student’s artistic skills and techniques. Projects take between 1-2 weeks, and are counted as test grades. At the end of each semester in both Visual Arts I and II, students choose their own topic for a project using whatever materials, colors, and techniques they desire in order to make a unique work of art.
One task all students in Visual Arts work on is their visual journals. Everyday, students spend around 10 mins of work time in their visual journals. By the end of the week, students should have a completed a detailed sketch. For example, listening to a song over and over again, and representing it visually by using colored pencils, pen, glue, magazines, etc.
Students are encouraged to be creative and think outside of the box. According to Ms. Meeks, the sketches should look like 50+ minutes of effort. The journals are designed to explore imagination and techniques that interest and challenge students.
Students look at fellow classmate’s visual journals in order to give constructive comments. Students will then go on to work independently on projects that will improve, as well as teach, numerous drawing techniques. Such techniques can include color scheme, shading, and abstract which are then applied to various projects.
“My art skills have definitely improved [since taking Visual Arts]. Going into highschool I was very subpar, and then after taking Ms. Meek’s class I learned how to do a lot of things I didn’t know how to do,” said Kathryn Falcinelli, a junior, who will be taking her third Visual Arts class, Visual Arts III, in the spring.
For many students who took one or all of the Visual Arts classes, the classes proven to be very beneficial in many different aspects of their lives. “Visual arts has taken me out of my artistic comfort zone and even helped me to develop my own art style,” said Hock.
A tremendous amount of students enjoy Visual Arts not just as a class, but particularly because of Ms. Meeks, saying that she is extremely helpful and always ready for students to learn more about art.
So many students at Leesville have enjoyed taking a visual arts class, some even finding a new pastime from their art class. Taking a Visual Arts class can not only be a great way to further your art skills in a constructive learning environment, but it can be a chance to learn different techniques and styles of art that you might enjoy.