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U of M professors visit PAVE Academy to critique student work

U of M professors visit PAVE Academy to critique student work
Posted on 12/13/2018
As the first semester of the school year winds down at Arlington High School, college seems to loom on Sarah Stobbe’s mind.

She’s a senior and isn’t quite sure what lies ahead. She’s juggling three different college choices and still deciding on a major – it’s in between Anatomy & Physiology, Psychology or maybe even Art. Still, she’s not worried and knows there’s still time to decide.

Tai Williams, on the other hand, more or less has his mind made up. He wants to go to theteenager explains artwork to his teacher University of Memphis to pursue architecture.

Stobbe and Williams seem to be heading down completely different paths, yet both found themselves being critiqued by the same professors during an after-school portfolio review last week.

The review, which was sponsored by the PAVE Fine Arts Academy, featured two well-known and renowned artists and professors from the University of Memphis: Beth Edwards and Hamlett Dobbins. They were brought in to critique student art pieces and give feedback on how they can improve.

“I didn’t know how it was going to go,” Stobbe laughed. “I thought they’d just come in and pat us on the back for being active at 17 years old. But they really treated us like college-aged students and gave us a preview of what a university would be like.”

Each student was paired with a professor for 15 minutes. Looking over their eyeglasses, Edwards and Dobbins carefully examined each art piece, running their fingers over the raised edges and nodding in a way that left students guessing whether it had their stamp of approval.

“I mean, it was pretty stressful,” Stobbe laughed again. “You can’t help but be nervous because they’re operating at such a high level, and I’m still in high school. But her [Edward’s] advice was incredible.”

Similar to a college portfolio review, the professors offered practical advice on how each student could improve his or her artwork. They also pointed out strengths they could capitalize on by studying other artists of similar styles.

professor examines students work“I got a lot of nice feedback on my charcoal pieces and was told that my work compliments my desires of architecture,” Williams said. His emphasis is charcoal art, and he uses that technique to draw machines and pipes and other mechanical objects. “Art has shown me that I have the skills to take concepts in my mind and put them out on paper and maybe put that in the real world one day.”

“This is the first opportunity these students have had to see all of their work from the year laid out in front of them,” said Melanie Anderson, AHS art teacher. “I am pretty tough on them with critiques, but they hear me every day. That’s why I think hearing someone from a different perspective is a good thing.”

And whether it’s students like Stobbe who are still deciding what they want to do in life after high school or those like Williams who are geared towards a certain path, Anderson believes these critiques are helpful all around.

“This feedback from experts in the field is invaluable,” she continued. “It helps push them to the next level and get them ready for what’s ahead, from college to scholarships to competitions. They may not want to make art their career, but it’s giving them a real-world opportunity now, and I think they’ll be stronger for it.

PAVE, a Performing Arts and Visual Fine Arts Academy, allows students to specialize in concentrated arts fields. PAVE includes Visual Arts, Film & Video, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music and Speech & Debate.