Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Peter Lange of the Art Department describes how the extensive 2004-2007 renovation of Hanover High improved the way he, Elizabeth Green and Stephanie Gordon can teach all the different art courses that the school offers. The three teachers are shown in the center photo.

With the renovation, the art rooms moved into the original Richmond School gym, which had recently been a library and stage. The dropped ceiling was removed and the space was opened up into the rafters, creating an expansive feeling.

The added space and new equipment allow us to teach effectively using an open studio concept. Open studio teaching means the studios are always open for students to work when they have time, even if a class is in session. Students are required to do a combination of class group time and individual work in the studio. This makes them more self-reliant and creative, we hope. During their studio work time outside of their particular class, students need to be able to access the studio materials and equipment without interrupting other classes that may be in session. Students learn to work on their own to be more self-reliant, respectful and self-actualized in their learning.

The increase in space allows students to work in and around ongoing classes. Many of the student art projects involve ventilation. The new art facility has the ventilation motors on the roof. In the old rooms if someone wanted to spray-paint, silk-screen, fix a pastel drawing, solder stained glass or silver jewelry, and do other projects that needed ventilation, they had to wait because when the vent was turned on the noise from the motor in the room made teaching impossible. With the vent motors on the roof class can be taught at the same time that other students are working and using the vents.

The new renovated space is also designed to be more flexible in teaching different artistic media in the same spaces. This maximizes the use of space and the variety of artwork that can be done. The different rooms group compatible media. In the old art rooms Photo and Pottery shared the same space. Film development and pottery work were going on in the same area, which is not a good grouping. Now the photo processing is combined with graphics computers, the sculpture and pottery share a room, the jewelry and printmaking share a room, and painting and drawing classes share a room. Design classes float through all the rooms as they use the different media in their projects.

Safety and traffic patterns are much improved over the old art rooms. Glaze mixing is done in a vented closet instead of in the classroom. Students do not have to walk through the classroom to get to their class space as they did in the old facility. There are more stations at which students can solder, polish and grind. In the old area students would have to stand around and wait for a station to open up so they could do their work. In the old pottery studio the space was so tight we had to move the tables to use the wheels and move the wheels to use the tables. In the new space we can keep the wheels and tables out at the same time. In the painting/drawing area there is room to move easels to the side and use all the tables. Getting 20 easels out of the way is crucial when
Drivers' Training classes are taught in the drawing/painting studio on Tuesday and Thursday after school.

Another improvement that has made teaching visual arts classes more effective is having an integrated system for using technology to teach. This is also a prime reason that Drivers' Training uses an art room. The windows can be darkened, and permanently-mounted digital projectors are used for student or teacher presentations of material from computers, DVD, videotape, ipod or visualizer. This allows the teachers to concentrate on teaching and not on setting up, finding, fixing or waiting to use equipment.

The visualizer is piece of equipment that projects an object or operation with a fixed video camera. Student work is projected for critique, and small, hard-to-see operations such as carving clay or filing small silver stone settings can be easily seen on the screen by the whole class while the technique is being demonstrated. This is an incredible teaching advantage that can keep 20 students engaged because they all can see in clear detail what is being demonstrated.

Instead of having 20 students all waiting in line at a single sink at the end of class to clean paint brushes, hands, pottery tools, film graduates, etc, we now have two sinks in each classroom for clean up. Cleanup time has been cut in half, and we use the new free time for learning. This makes a big difference in the time available in the normal class period.

The new facility is much easier to keep clean and organized because we have good and secure storage. Supplies last longer when they do not have to be stored out in the room where they can be in the way of students working and room maintenance. Equipment, tools, materials and student artwork lasts longer. In the old art rooms we had to constantly move things many times a day as different classes came into the same space. The constant moving caused breakage and waste.

We have four times more wall space dedicated to display panels that is used for displaying student work for motivation and critiques.

We can get a whole photo class into the darkroom now instead of having only half the class go in at a time as we did in the old facility.

The art rooms also have the advantage of being across the hall from the library, the gym and the cafeteria in the new renovated space.

Thank you for the renovated spaces.