UNCW Hosts Fifth Grade Arts Clinic for the Fourth Year

Monday, February 03, 2020

UNCW art professors, fifth grade artists and teachers from 25 New Hanover County elementary schools gathered at the UNCW Cultural Arts Building on Jan. 31 for the annual UNCW Arts Clinic.

This is the fourth year that UNCW has hosted the event, which celebrates fifth grade students who show artistic promise and puts them in an environment where they are able to imagine themselves pursuing higher education in art.

Each elementary school teacher brought two students to take part in three printmaking workshops. UNCW’s Donald Furst, an art and art history professor who specializes in printmaking, worked with the students in a workshop teaching them how to use the etching press machine.

“They’re fifth graders and here they are in a university printmaking studio. They are having an experience that they probably wouldn’t have stumbled upon themselves,” Furst said.

Prior to the clinic, students were asked to sketch what they believed a futuristic city landscape might look like. In the workshop they used Swiss water-soluble crayons to trace over their sketches and then put them through the etching press to reveal a vibrant futurescape.

“It’s really awesome that we get to color, not on the paper, but on a plate instead of actually touching the paper,” said Lylah Franklin, a Carolina Beach Elementary School fifth-grade participant.

Visual arts teacher Melony Connor has taught Franklin since she was in kindergarten. Connor attended UNCW before transferring to Appalachian State University years ago. She hopes that the clinic inspires students to pursue an art degree.

“It’s inviting to me to bring my children and students back to an arena that I also worked in. I think for their sake just the experience of coming on campus and being in a real art building, like the cultural arts building with all the different mediums and all the different studios, is very important for them,” Connor said.

Liza Saunders, Blair Elementary art teacher and the school district’s lead art elementary teacher, said students are happy to come to UNCW and take part in something that is different from a regular school day. The art clinic concluded with an informal art show that evening, where parents were able to view the students’ artwork.

Saunders explained that the students are usually more excited to show their parents the art studio than they are to show them their artwork.

“The biggest thing about this event is the fact that the kids are on campus,” Saunders said. “My girls were just so excited to come in and be on campus and go, ‘we are at a college; we are doing art; this could be something I can do’.”

The collaboration between the university and New Hanover County Schools is part of UNCW’s commitment to community engagement, a key component of the university’s the Strategic Plan.

-- Alex Churchill ’21



UNCW Art Clinic

UNCW art and art history professor Donald Furst shows students how to use the etching press machine.