Student works featured in GGC’s first permanent art installation

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Group photo of students holding up pieces of a large mural they painted.
Art appreciation students display pieces of the mural they planned and created themselves.

When you build a new college, you end up with a lot of blank walls … walls that almost scream for art.

Thanks to some creative art appreciation students, several large scale works now grace some of those walls, enriching the campus environment for everyone.

Today, the resulting, large-scale art works are located in GGC’s Center for Teaching Excellence, the School of Liberal Arts dean’s suite and Student Center – the college’s first permanent art installations.

“Most students take art appreciation to meet a core requirement, so participating in the full arc of artistic production from conceptualization to installation seemed a great way to make the content more meaningful,” said Dr. Carolina Blatt-Gross, assistant professor of art. “Students tend to be more invested in their campus and have more positive feelings toward it if they have some control over its appearance.”

The art project took about six weeks and involved four different classes in designing and producing nine works, each in acrylic paint on canvas. The process included a critique during which all of the proposed designs were displayed so the students could discuss the merits and possibilities of their favorite designs. Afterward, each class voted to select the winning designs, which were then executed collaboratively by the entire class.

Two male students painting one of the mural pieces.
Students work on one of the mural pieces.

Linda Rakowiecki, a 48-year-old psychology major from Lawrenceville, created one of the winning concepts – an abstract piece featuring grizzly bears in a range of colors.

“In anything you do, you need to learn skills, practice them and be able to deal with mistakes in order to perfect them,” Rakowiecki said. “That’s a lesson that can be applied to multiple areas in the learning process and life in general.”

The project taught students about more than just art. Blatt-Gross designed the project to cultivate a host of other attributes, such as working in diverse groups, respecting the opinions and ideas of others, learning to compromise and solve problems, using tools to build something with one’s hands, and recognizing the importance of details.

“While the artistic skills they gain may be useful, it’s the nature of thinking required to navigate this complex project that is the ultimate benefit,” she said. “This project helps students develop divergent modes of problem solving, using a perspective that is often alien to the linear, positivist thinking favored by the STEM disciplines.”

A female student is holding a mural piece up against the wall during the installation process.
A student positions a mural piece during the installation process.

“I feel that everyone has some sort of artistic potential, that when discovered, can grow into something that can be carried on throughout life,” said Brandon Pineda, a student from Norcross. “The project is relevant for all of GGC’s student body because art is a strong and wide subject that should be in everyone’s life in some way, giving insight on themselves as artists as well as their potential.”

Given the project’s success, Blatt-Gross is repeating it this semester and looks forward to enriching the ever-expanding campus with more student works.

“I think the students’ minds are blown when they see their art work transform blank walls into dynamic spaces,” she said. “This project is an example of how the ability to think artistically can elevate ideas from ordinary to extraordinary.”

As part of the project, Blatt-Gross’ students produced a video of their experiences, from start to finish, which appears below. Scroll down past the video to see a photo gallery of the project.

Below is an image rotator of images of students painting.
Mixing colors
Student painting
Student painting
Student painting
Arrange the arts on the wall
Students painting
Arrange the arts on the wall
Prepare the art frame
Prepare the art frame
Students paiting
Students paiting
Students and Professors
Group of students and their arts
Preparing a frame fo paiting
Student and his paiting
The arts inside Student Center

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