by J1 Reporter Nora Fitzsimmons
One can find Marian girls hunched over pottery wheels or meticulously shading self portraits in Room 309 during the school day, but on Monday nights and summer days, Marian art teacher Ashley Bauer uses the room to ignite a much simpler form of creativity in young girls.
Bauer teaches girls from second to eighth grade in summer camps, private lessons, and group lessons accompanied by Marian 2017 graduate, Lauren Weis.
The duo teaches girls how to do many different projects such as watercolor, pottery, and glass art. Weis said that these camps and classes are “a great way to be creative and have fun.” She is also a hardworking student at the University of Lincoln, so these camps are a “good break from the day.”
Bauer agrees that these camps can be fun for everyone involved. She likes taking a break from her Marian students’ self portraits and oil paintings, because it’s “fun to teach a younger level and its kind of fun to do more arts and crafts thing every once in a while”.
Bauer said that her younger students have just as much fun as her, but she also hopes that they retain some of the creative skills she teaches them. She claims that artistic skills have become more important because, “In society it’s not like you just need to know math and science or you need to know arts; you just need to be a well rounded individual.” Bauer hopes that these camps will give girls a new tool of creativity to use throughout their lives.
Bauer also sees her art camps as a way to introduce girls to Marian. She recalls “When I first started [teaching] I never thought that I would teach high school, I always thought that I would teach elementary or middle school…so when I got this job I was kind of excited to recruit incoming girls for the art department.”
Weis also thinks that it’s a great way to bring future Marian art students together because the camps are “more of a bonding experience…because a lot of them are incoming freshmen.”
Bauer hopes that she is also able to build the Marian art department by introducing girls to art at these camps. Even though academics and sports are what seem to be at the forefront of the Marian agenda, Bauer’s goal has always been to “build the art department from what it was seven years ago” when she began teaching.” She especially set out to “grow the area of Art III and IV”, which has greatly developed over her time at Marian. When Bauer started at Marian, there was one small class of combined Art III and Art IV students. Now, she teaches two Art III classes and one art IV class.
This improvement can especially be seen in the Art III self portraits. Bauer said “There have been a lot more awards for the portraits in terms of the higher awards.” For example, girls have won Presidential Awards, three have been in the governor’s mansion, and one is currently hanging in the Washington D.C. capital building according to Bauer.
While Bauer enjoys teaching these camps, because they allow her to take a break from intense art projects, inspire girls to create, and recruit future Marian art students in hopes of bettering the art department, she finds helping these girls to unlock their creativity the most rewarding. Its makes her smile to “teach them things that just blow their mind…like how to blend a colored pencil.” She said that she loves to see “the light bulbs go off” in the girls when they learn a new technique or express their creativity.