Inside the Art Studio

by Hala Salem

Coming up the mountainous eight flights of stairs to reach the fifth floor, lungs out of breath, students make it to their studio art class.

A room stands in the corner of the two long, bright hallways of the fifth floor. As students come into the quiet, empty room, the bright illuminating glow of the morning sky signals for the day ahead.   

The room slowly begins to fill with the chatter of students as they gather their art pieces and materials, carefully trying to move around the tight corners and spaces to grab their items out of their assigned drawer. 

In the front of the room stand large, brown mustard-colored sliding-door cabinets. Halfway opened, the cabinets expose boxes of acrylic paint, shelves of paint brushes and scissors in cups, piles of books, paper, rubber cement, tape, an assortment of colored ink, and chalk pastels.

Because of recent problems with the sinks in the room, students are left no choice, but to walk to the water fountain in the halls to fill their yogurt cups with water for their paintings. 

As students begin to settle into their seats and resume their work on their projects, an array of tubes of paint, palettes, pencils, canvases, easels and paper towels cover the ebony black tables. 

Since students sit together at the same tables, they are able to help their classmates with critiquing works, asking for opinions and sharing their materials.  

Mehwish Qureshi, a senior Art major shares her values in getting to sit with her classmates.

“It really makes me motivated when doing my pieces and makes me happy especially when I’m working with friends. I enjoy being able to receive feedback and a little bit of help when I need it, and I also enjoy doing the same to my friends,” she said. 

Melanie Vargas, a senior Art major speaks on the inner awareness that many, to almost all art students agree feeling as a result of getting to see their classmates’ work. She mentions that when students get to view their peers artwork they might have the tendency to compare themselves to others.

“Try to avoid that when looking at your classmates’ artwork because everyone has their highs and lows and everyone is at different places in their artistic journey. You might have art pieces that you strongly dislike and that’s okay, it’s part of growing as an artist,” Melanie said.

Jana Mohamed, a senior Art major shared what she feels toward the art-making process.

“Although it can be really stressful trying to get everything done on time and take giant projects home to finish, it feels rewarding when the art piece comes together nicely,” she said. 

“I just wish or hope that we get more opportunities this year to have gallery walks and other opportunities to show our work. I feel like the art class of 2023 was robbed of that. We barely had any opportunities these past years which is frustrating,” she continues to say. 

Ava Slatkin, a senior Art major agrees saying a gallery walk at the end of each project would be helpful.

“I feel like it’s really important to the inspiration process and it’s a nice experience,” she said. 

With a new senior art teacher, many students are hopeful for the changes to come for the art studio. 

“My favorite part about being an art teacher at FSSA is working with students to prepare them for college and helping students with their development of a strong portfolio for college,” said Ms. Blau, the new senior fine arts teacher. 

Ms. Blau says she enjoys working with students in creating the yearbook and in exposing students to real life experiences they will run into in the future as they currently run into difficulties with planning the yearbook and creating their works of art.  

At the end of a long week or in preparation for a break, students go home after school carrying folders, canvases, or portfolios through the wind or rain as they hope to get a good portion of work done on their projects.