Art Room of Dr. Jessica Kirker

Norristown Area High School in the Norristown Area School District (Grades 9-12)
This year we are offer: Art Appreciation, Creative Design, Life Skills, Adapted Art, Art Major 1, Art Major 2, Portfolio Prep, Ceramics, Photo/graphics, Sculpture/Jewelry, Painting/Printmaking
This year I am teaching: Life Skills, Adapted Art, Art Major 1, and Ceramics 1& 2
(As a program, we change our course offerings almost every year to accommodate scheduling needs of the school and the changing interests of students)
The photos that we are featuring show finished work and work in-progress from the past month in my classrooms. In Marking Period 4, we emphasize three dimensional form. In the past two weeks, many classes have been working with paper mache. We have been discussing the production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of “stuff” and considering the flaws along each facet of this production line (see “The Story of Stuff”at storyofstuff.org). To coincide with a heightened consideration of our own consumption, we consider the work of Claes Oldenburg to draw attention to some of the seemingly irrelevant “things” we interact with on a daily basis. We are taking those objects and re-creating them out of recycled materials to not only emphasis the items themselves, but consider the amount of waste that is created in the distribution of these good. By creating work out of recycled materials, the students have heightened their awareness of the goods and materials they both use AND waste on a daily basis.
In Ceramics, the students are finishing up their Live Form Busts and beginning to learn how to throw on the wheel. Their busts were their final sculpture lesson for the year. On the wheel, they will be making sets of bowls, cups with pulled handles, and they are about to start on their teapots which will take the entire month of May. We will finish off with a dessert party to “test” the bowls and learn about Japanese Chanoyu, or Way of Tea. We will attempt our own outdoor tea ceremony before the end of the school year.
In Life Skills, we are making multiple three dimensional projects in the second half of the semester. The photos here feature the draped clay bowls as well as the draped yarn bowls we made with yarn and glue. We also made 3D “funny self-portraits” of characters that represent our interests and personalities. Right now we are working on hot air balloons for the primary Life Skills classrooms before we move on draped bowls for the schools’ “Empty Bowls” project.
I love teaching at Norristown. The students here are second to none. They make me laugh, challenge me, and inspire me every day. The students in the art classrooms make up a wonderful community of artists and young adults. I love the way relationships form over the creation, critique, and discussion of art. We share in each other’s challenges and successes. As we learn new processes and techniques, students collectively struggle with centering on the wheel, then triumph over their first beautiful bowl. They share each other’s stress over the creation of form through value and celebrate the successful product of charcoal portraiture. Throughout the school year, informal and formal class discussions build our individual and community identity as we learn about others and learn about ourselves. I love watching unlikely friendships form over sharing a palette of paint and life long bonds form over the duration of their high school art careers. It’s such an honor to work with this wonderful teenagers everyday as a profession!