The Tinicum Art and Science High School currently has an exhibition in the Underground Gallery at Tyler.
The exhibition, Thick and Sassy, was installed by Barbara Bjerring and her high school students. It will remain in the Underground Gallery until April 29.
“The entire Thick and Sassy exhibition was based on one lesson plan targeted to help the students find individual themes based on their personal concerns that would drive art making. We talk a lot about contemporary art, pop culture, and visual literacy in reference to symbolism,” Bjerring said. “After the students found themes that interested them, we worked pretty hard to realize symbolism that they felt truly fit with what they were trying to express.”
The students found that they were able to fit more symbols into their pieces by working in three dimensions.
“Quite a few of the students were apprehensive to work this way, even from the start when we were looking for themes. They pushed back a lot which created a lot of procrastination and then hurried work just before the show went up,” Bjerring said. “Now that they’ve seen their work hanging in an organized, clean environment, they are proud of their efforts. Many of the students can see themselves as artists. They also see a need to change their work ethics away from procrastination and to relax and trust the process.”
Bjerring is currently student teaching at Tinicum for her art education certification candidacy.
“I never saw myself as a teacher and ten years ago if you told me I would be teaching I would seriously doubt that idea. Then at some point after I gave birth to my son, I suddenly felt that being in my studio, focusing on myself and my personal expression was a bit selfish. I thought that I was not really putting myself fully out into the world and living as big as I could,” Bjerring said. “Now that I am teaching, I see the rewards of having these wonderful relationships with the students. Helping them is so much more rewarding than I could have imagined before.”
To open up her students to art, Bjerring teaches them that art is not solely about craftmanship, but also about having an idea.
“Many of the students are terrified to create because they don’t want to be judged on their drawing or painting skills. I point out to them their beautiful ideas and feelings; all the wonderful accomplishments they’ve acquired,” Bjerring said. “I love contemporary art so I’m able to show them how others have made art about being alive and just living. The students are able to see how being an artist is and has always been open to them. I hope they feel invited and welcomed into the art world.”
A mix of Bjerring’s students’ paintings, drawings, prints, a book, and sculptures will also be shown at The Art of Student Teaching exhibition, along with works from students under the direction of 26 other Tyler student teachers, in the Stella Elkins Tyler Gallery from May 1-5.
“My art has always been message heavy and still is but now I think about the message an object conjures and how that can intensify the message in the art,” Bjerring said. “My go to artistic inspirations are the likes of Barbara Kruger, David Wojnarowicz, Banksy, Tracy Emin, Marcel Duchamp, Grayson Perry, Ai Wei Wei, and about a million other amazing artists and their generosity. I’m immensely inspired by my students.”