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UWYO Magazine|May 2014 | Vol. 15 No. 3

UWYO MAGAZINE

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University of Wyoming
Dept. 3226
1000 East University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071-2000
Phone: 307-766-2379
TTY: 307-766-6729
Email: uwyomag@uwyo.edu    

Future Artists

The UW Fine Arts Outreach program provides high school students a look ahead to college and careers.

By Pat Wolfinbarger

Student drawing in Art Intensive program.

When then-Rawlins High School sophomore Dustin Haag attended Art Intensive at the University of Wyoming in 2005, little did he know he was taking a trip into his future.

Sponsored by UW Fine Arts Outreach, Art Intensive showed Haag the many possibilities that his academic and career interests in drawing offered him—a result of interaction with UW Department of Art faculty members and students.

“I came back again in 2006 and 2007,” Haag says of Art Intensive. “I always wanted to be an artist.”

Haag enrolled at UW and recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art. He’s working on his post-baccalaureate study, creating a portfolio to help him on his path to becoming an art teacher. His involvement with Art Intensive came full circle in the spring of 2014. He helped teach dozens of students from around Wyoming, providing them unique insight as someone who has experienced Art Intensive as both a pupil and an instructor.

“It’s really energizing working with high school students,” Haag says.

Haag’s experience is what the UW Fine Arts Outreach program seeks to accomplish in working with the university’s fine arts departments, says Janelle Fletcher-Kilmer, Fine Arts Outreach director. “The mission of Fine Arts Outreach is to present artistic and educational opportunities to Wyoming’s public schools, UW students and communities.” 

On-campus festivals and events are attended primarily by high school students and their teachers, Fletcher-Kilmer says. She estimates that over the course of a year, students from nearly 100 schools participate.

In addition to Art Intensive, there are other on-campus programs involving Wyoming high schools, including the Festival of Winds, Festival of Voices, UW Jazz Festival and Conducting Symposium with the UW Department of Music; the Snowy Range Dance Festival with the UW Department of Theatre and Dance; and the Summer Teaching Institute with the UW Art Museum. UW Fine Arts Outreach also coordinates yearly state-wide tours of UW music, theater and dance productions.

Campbell County High School art teacher Rede Ballard of Gillette, Wyo., has brought students to Art Intensive for 16 years. He says high school teachers get to talk about the art profession and academics with their UW faculty counterparts. Students get to study techniques and other facets of art that they might not learn about until college—in facilities that no high school can match.

“The kids that we bring to UW have the potential to be professional artists and teachers,” Ballard says. “Their experience validates their feelings about art and that it is something serious to pursue. They meet the faculty and university students, they see the resources the university has put into art, and it’s energizing.”

Doug Russell, UW associate professor of art, witnessed the growth of Art Intensive since his arrival at UW in 2005. “I like that my students are teaching as well,” he says. “We put that in place so that the high school students would feel more comfortable talking to UW students not much older than they are but certainly more knowledgeable. And it’s nice to see our students imparting the knowledge and skills that we’ve been giving them over the last few years.”

Introducing the students to UW provides benefits for all involved, now and in the future. “These events provide a great recruiting opportunity for UW, as well as a chance to get to know high school teachers and students from Wyoming and throughout the region,” Fletcher-Kilmer says. “These events allow us to connect to programs in the state and have a presence in the education and arts communities.”

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