The Art Department Looks Past Online Learning


If you walk into Mr. Heckendorf’s U116 art classroom, it’s likely that you will hear easy going reggae music playing. Students are hard at work, but the air is filled with positive energy—the energy of free-flowing, creative expression.

Six months ago, this was completely different. Creativity was at risk of being lost behind screens, and teachers had to adapt in speedy fashion.

Graphic Design teacher, Mr. Heckendorf, tenses up at the thought of remote teaching.

“Not physically surrounded by like minded people, it’s difficult to get feedback and critique each other,” said Mr. Heckendorf.

Photography teacher, Mr. Chimento, has been teaching for 32 years. He would have never imagined using a cell phone based curriculum prior to last year.

“I have no respect for this,” Mr. Chimento said while holding up his cell phone. However, he said that he took a cell phone workshop and discovered that there was a hierarchy in the making of excellent cell phone photos.

Despite this, Mr. Chimento and the art department worked diligently to help their students.

“[…] when you have teachers with a very very high amount of rigor and a high amount of excellence, it was really torture for us to not deliver that to kids, and expect that from kids,” said Chimento. “[…] so in that respect, we were starting to do work that spoke volumes to what was at the time, and the pain they were experiencing.”

The art department plans to get back into their rhythm now that students are fully in person.

“I’m super excited to have an art show, and in the spring we usually have this big, beautiful art show that celebrates students,” said Mr. Heckendorf.

Mr. Chimento is also the sponsor for National Art Honor Society.

“We give kids a chance to be excellent in other areas besides sports, if they’re talented in this arena,” said Chimento. “The talent that a lot of my artists share is that they know how to make this look really good.” said Chimento.

He is excited for club members to work together on projects. The past may be somber, but brighter tones are already being developed.

“When you collectively work on something, all of a sudden you are creating joy,” Chimento said.