In the back corner of the art room, pinned on the wall near the dark room door, there hung a small, vividly blue square of fabric with senior Grant Carnal’s face printed crystal-clear on it.
Grant’s image was one University High School’s first attempts at cyanotype printing. Creating a cyanotype print involves putting a photosensitive emulsion onto fabric or paper, letting the sun expose whatever image a student wishes to develop, and rinsing off the emulsion with water. The result is a vivid, cyan-blue photographic print.
The materials for cyanotype printing were one of many takeaways University High School art teachers Jamie Owens and Meredith Van Rooy brought home from the 2018 National Conference of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) in Seattle this spring.
Van Rooy has attended this conference twice in the past, but this was Owens’s first trip. For Owens, who teaches photography, there weren’t as many sessions geared toward his medium, but he benefited from the few he attended by thinking about his subject matter as well as his teaching approach in those classes.
“I went to two sessions about photography, and they helped me because I come from more of a professional background, not an educational background,” said Owens. “I’ve expanded on what Tasha Barger showed me in my first year, but a lot of what I’ve done has just come from me. When I came back to school after this conference, I made some changes to the way I teach my advanced classes right away.”
For Van Rooy, one of the things she enjoyed about the NAEA conference was discovering new mediums and new applications of mediums she already teaches.
“One of the things I learned about was silverpoint,” said Van Rooy. “Leonardo da Vinci and several of his contemporaries drew in silverpoint; they didn’t draw in pencil. It’s basically a point made out of silver, and it leaves a residue [on the paper]. It looks like pencil at first, but over time it will age into this really rich brown-gray color, which is why all of da Vinci’s drawings look brown today.”
“I also went to a session on bookmaking but applying circuitry, so it would be like adding LED lights to a book,” added Van Rooy. “When I came back to school after the conference, I talked to Meredith Hogan (math teacher) about this idea and how it could lead to a collaboration between us.”
Van Rooy also found inspiration in an often-overlooked place – the exhibit hall.
“One of the things I got the most out of was when we got to walk around the exhibit hall, which is where all the vendors set up,” said Van Rooy. “I got to see all the new mediums and how they work, and I even got to sit down and try some. They also give you, if you try things out, lesson plans. Some of them may be for younger children, but I can always adapt them.”