Under the guidance and encouragement of a nationally ranked faculty, students at Centre College refine their skills and abilities across all disciplines, developing themselves as strong writers, articulate speakers, critical thinkers and, for students of the College’s studio art program, mature visual artists.
H.W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Art Sheldon Tapley leads an intensive and integrative painting and drawing course during CentreTerm, structured to accommodate students of different skill levels and characterized by an emphasis on direct observation. While novice students learn the basics of drawing and painting human figures, more advanced artists focus on preparing exhibit-ready works, and according to Tapley, CentreTerm’s intensity is ideal for studio art instruction at any stage.
“Drawing or painting for at least six hours a day, all week long, is a great way to build skill and confidence,” he says.
Students not only improve their own technique but also have the opportunity to see the work of some of the world’s greatest artists in some of the world’s best museums. Each CentreTerm, Tapley takes his students to New York City in order to study historic and contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, among other places.
“Art students need to see art—in person, not just in reproduction,” explains Tapley. “The students can see famous masterworks that they might have studied in humanities, art history or studio art, and they are required to sketch in the museums, too, which intensifies the learning experience.”
Students are also able to see first-hand the commerce of the art business: specifically, how artists make their livings by exhibiting in galleries.
“We visited two very well-known professional painters in their studios and talked with them about how they work,” says Tapley. “We also toured the New York Academy of Art, one of the country’s largest graduate schools in visual arts. The student work there is very impressive, and gives our students a sense of the standards expected in prestigious graduate programs.”
Tapley hopes that students were inspired in their own work as a result of the trip, and that they also attained a better grasp on the career options available for art graduates.
“I want them to get a sense of the standards of the profession, so that they are more knowledgeable and confident, but also feel challenged,” he says. “If they want a career in the arts, they have to see and meet people who do that.”
by Caitlan Cole