Photography students Wallkill Valley Regional High School learned dazzling new techniques from professionals who visited the school, both in person and virtually.
Teacher Mary Rose Potanka invited the artists, including local photographer Paul Michael Kane, an adjunct professor at Sussex County Community College. Before the cold weather set in, he took the class outside, where they learned how to create interesting effects using colored smoke. The colors come in small tubes and, when opened, disperse like smoke in vivid hues of pink, red, green, orange, yellow, purple, black, and blue.
An artist from the U.K., Rich McCor, created a video about forced perspective and graphical photography for Potanka’s class. A forced perspective photo creates an optical illusion by making an object appear farther or closer, or larger or smaller, than it really is. Graphical photography uses color, shape, and geometry to look like something that can be designed or drawn.
Another guest artist Kiki Buccini created a collage kit for the students. Guest artist Mandy Fariello showed how to create mail art. The students used recycled materials and collage to create a postcard intended to be mailed.
Arkansas photographer Erin Foerster recorded a time-lapsed video of one of her pieces.
“I liked the collage project that featured guest artist Kiki and the kit she created for us because it allowed me to get creative while using limiting the materials,” said eleventh grader Matthew Dressner.
Elaine Zhang, grade 12, also enjoyed creating collages. “In a virtual setting, the process of creating the collage kit and bundling ideas has encouraged me to think more outside the box and be more creative,” she said.
Elaina Nasisi, grade 10, said she “found inspiration in the idea that things can be beautiful even without any color. My monochrome theme expresses an antique style.”
Potanka said she was looking for artists interested in doing an “artist in residence” virtual experience for her students. Before the pandemic, her class traveled to studios or museums on field trips, and guest artists visited her classroom.
“I thought this was a creative way to get artists into my classroom without them having to leave their house or worry about what time zone they are in,” she said. “The best part is this experience was free for my students to attend and didn’t take away from any of their other classes. I wanted to create unique experiences for my students during this pandemic that would inspire them to make art.”
Ethan Zhang, grade 10, said, “Creating art and photography during the pandemic has changed my mindset about what photography truly is. It shows how diverse your content can be and how you work with what you have.”
TJ Ward, grade 11, said, “It was exciting to create a piece of art through virtual learning.”
Alyssa Davis, grade 10, said, “Art comes from other art, which is exactly what I did.”
“Creating art and photography during the pandemic has changed my mindset about what photography truly is. It shows how diverse your content can be and how you work with what you have.” Ethan Zhang, grade 10