Bringing Warhol to West Liberty

WEST LIBERTY – A special class brought students together from elementary education, art education and graphic design to make education more artistic, thanks to the collaboration of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Center for Arts and Education at West Liberty University.

“This is a course on how they (students, teachers) can integrate art into their classrooms,” Tresa Varner, curator of education and interpretation at the Warhol, said during the last class session Friday.

As an exercise, Varner said the students used the photographic silk screen printing techniques to create works of art that could be mass produced in a social environment to deliver a point. Varner said WLU students mastered the concept, using the artistic style to express different ideas such as conservation or creativity.

Varner said the diversity of students taking the course made it more interesting, since it gave non-art majors a chance to gain confidence in the field.

“We do have a mix of art and non-art majors,” Varner said. “Even a person who doesn’t consider themselves artistic can create something.”

Lou Karas, education director for the West Liberty University Center for Arts and Education, said the class was part of a two-year project between the center and the museum, funded by a grant from the Benedum Foundation.

“We’re working with undergraduates a semester before they begin student teaching,” Karas said. “In the past semester, we’ve had three workshops to learn about the technique, study Andy Warhol and apply what they learned in the classroom.”

One of the resources the grant paid for was portable silk screening equipment, Karas said, and a trip to the museum on May 17 to tour the museum and begin learning the techniques. After that, five sessions were held, wrapping up with Friday’s.

The course earned three graduate-level credits for participating students at no cost to them, according to Karas.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” said Keely Camden, dean of the WLU College of Education. “It’s seeing education coming to life through art. Academically and personally, it’s been fun to watch the process, too.”

Camden said the school values partnerships like the one between the Warhol and the center for arts and education because such collaborations bring such opportunities to students.