MU Art Department hosts High School Art Day

Saturday, November 5, 2011 | 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 9:56 p.m. CDT, Saturday, November 5, 2011

COLUMBIA — For a few minutes, five high school students watched in rapt silence as Jessica Thornton, a visiting assistant professor, crushed and mixed red pigments and explained to them the art of making oil paint.

It wasn't long, though, until one of them wanted to get in on the action. Junior Mackenzie Griffin from Camdenton High School asked if she could try. Soon all five got to try their hand at mulling pigment for themselves.

"A lot of art is about play," Thornton said. "It should be hands-on."

During MU's High School Art Day on Saturday, Thornton and other MU professors taught workshops and reviewed student art work. Afterward, the high school students were given information about art scholarships, classes and degrees available at MU. 

About 65 students and seven art teachers from 14 high schools attended the event. It is the second time MU has hosted High School Art Day. 

Students could choose to attend five of the 11 workshops available, such as photography, painting or sculpture.

Although interested mainly in drawing, Centralia High School junior Dandy Weeden attended a photography workshop taught by Dan Farnum, a visiting assistant professor. 

"I take photos, and I draw them," Weeden said.

Weeden said she's been drawing ever since she could remember.

Later in a review session, Weeden carefully laid out four portraits — which included a drawing of actress Emma Watson — for Bill Hawk, an associate professor of art, to look at.

"You have a tenacity and a discipline to work through these things," Hawk said, after examining Weeden's drawings. "Art takes a lot of patience."

The event not only attracts potential art majors to the school but also attracts quality academic students for the university, Melvin Platt, the Art Department chairman, said.

"We're not interested in having more (students) as much as were interested in having better (students)," Platt said. "We want the best and the brightest."

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