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studies (long)

updated tue 30 sep 97


MELANIE SWANN on tue 16 sep 97

Dear Marilyn,
Independent study in my classes is geared to the local
universities' programs, so I don't know if any of this will fit
your needs:
Independent students here select a problem or an area
of focus, and spend a block of time devoted to that problem. For
instance, last year Brian K. was working on large stacked forms,
John G. was working on thrown porcelain vessels, and Amber P.
worked on wall installations and large hand built platters. Each
student was faced with individual technical problems and shared
problems of design, i.e. form, texture, glaze, focal point, space,
Of course independent students can be more work for an
instructor rather than less. I feel that it is my responsibility as
the instructor to trouble shoot areas that the student is weak and
guide them in their journey. This may mean extra demonstrations,
researching books they may feel helpful, or finding galleries or
artists they may research. Sometimes the most important thing they
need is help setting up the problem, establishing parameters if any.
Even though they are independent students, we still discuss as a
class the elements and principles of design, i.e. form, texture,
space, balance, etc... As a class, we also discuss the history of
clay world wide and the current trends and artists. I recommend
getting a copy of the advanced placement portfollio guidlines. These
will give you a place to start when considering depth and breath of
As far as the portfollio presentation is concerned, I recommend
calling the institution your student is interested in attending. Ask
what they look for in a freshman student for their program. What
things they expect the student to have learned, to have mastered, to
have a passing knowledge. Otherwise how can you write a letter of
recommendation to them if you know little of their needs as a
teaching facility? They will also tell you how they prefer to see the
portfollios; some like just slides, others like to see slides and a
few actual pieces. In Utah, universities conduct interviews and
portfollio reviews at the state juried art show held at the
springville museum. Students here must have slides, examples,
written application for scholarship, letters of recommendation, and a
college interview. I have found that collaboration and
discussion with the institution can only help your student.
We have a great photography teacher on staff here. As
part of his curriculm his students photograph (in slides) the
ceramic, painting and drawing, and the sculpture students'
portfollios. He uses a basic backdrop and soft umbrella lighting.
If you have specific questions I can pass them on to him.

Hope some of this helps.

Melanie Swann

woods cross high school
600 west 2200 south
woods cross, utah 84087
(801) 299-2075
----------------------------Original message--------------------------
-- Hi everyone!
I'm hoping that someone, probably many of you, will be able to help me
with a request that a student has made of me. This young woman is in her
senior year of high school, has wanted to be a potter since age 3,
finally took her first wheel throwing class with me in my private studio
last year. Now, in order to gradute high school, it's time for her to put
together a portfolio, do something called independent study, and then use
this portfolio to apply to art schools, maybe even Alfred, she hopes.
She and her family distrust the advice offered to her from her high
school, which amounted to taking a camera, shooting some slides of
uncentered work, and be done with it.

Would any of you please share with me advice about applying to a
college properly? Do any of you know what independent study is supposed
to accomplish? What do colleges want to see in a portfolio, or in any
type of submission? Is it too presumptuous of me to call the admissions
office, and request this info, on behalf of this student?
I thank you in advance, and hope that my fear of institutions isn't
showing too much!
Thanks again,
Marilyn Dale