For thousands of years, art has evolved alongside mankind, from cave pictographs to the modern digital creations . Art instruction, however, has remained mostly the same … until now.
Teacher Hugo Nuñez is paving the way for innovation in art instruction at EPISD with a $2,500 grant from the Texas Cultural Trust to help him create a digital art class at Coronado High School.
“When I got the letter from the Texas Cultural Trust, I was really happy and excited,” Nuñez said. “This kind of classroom really helps the students develop more skills and prepare them for the 21st century workplace. My goal is to implement more technology and digital art into district shows and in the community.”
The Texas Cultural Trust, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts, developed the Arts & Digital Literacy (ADL) program to integrate technology in the classroom. The project-based program focuses on linking art education and digital media instruction for high-school students.
“We want our EPISD students to become critical thinkers who are fluent in digital arts as a pathway towards creativity and innovation,” said Rosa Aguilar, visual arts facilitator. “Students today are born into a digital world and digital arts skills are essential tools to have as pencils and paints are to canvas and paper.”
Nuñez applied for the grant in December with the intent of incorporating more digital illustration in his Art I classes, but once he attended the Digital Pioneers workshop last month he realized the potential to take instruction even further.
“We learned about stop motion, animation, photography and even video game design. They want us to make the class as interactive as possible and for students to really engage using digital artefacts,” he said. “It opened up a broader curriculum. It was bigger than I had thought and gave me a lot of ideas on how to create lesson plans.”
To qualify for the grant, Nuñez had to commit to teach the ADL class for three years. He can reapply for another grant in two years.
He plans on buying a 3-D printer, an Oculus Rift system, as well as digital cameras. In the meantime, students have been using their cellphones and EPISD laptops, downloading apps to create logo and poster designs.
Students snapped photos on campus to capture real-life art concepts, such as line and space, value and color.
“They went on a scavenger hunt to get these colors,” he said. “They are very creative with their photography. It’s really amazing things we see every day, but we don’t put it together as a color wheel. It’s pretty interesting how they come up with these things.”
Students are responding well to the class, which filled up quickly at the start of the new school year. Junior Adriana Sanchez saw the class as an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and try something new.
“Traditional art classes have been taught the same way for decades whereas digital art promotes a new approach to the creative process,” Sanchez said. “I feel like this class is preparing me for many career opportunities.”
Her favorite assignment so far has been creating a poster, using illustrations apps on the iPad.
“It was a contest between everyone in the class to create a poster promoting the class at Coronado,” she said. “It was a lot of fun editing text and illustrations to complete this project. Everyone in the class is excited for upcoming projects. I am glad I joined this class to broaden my knowledge in the digital arts.”