BVT: Drawing a Bright Future


New Orleans artist Ida Floreak (left) offered a personal portfolio critique to senior Multimedia Communications student Anna Shobe of Upton to help her strengthen her work before sending it off to the California Institute of the Arts, her first choice school where she hopes to study animation.

When you walk into the art room after school on a Tuesday or Thursday, you will see anywhere from 12 to 25 students scattered throughout the room with projects and materials set on every available surface. The music playing from a computer in the corner keeps the students inspired as their paint brushes, charcoal pieces, and pencils dance across the papers in front of them.

Many of the students are chasing a dream of going to art school. Their hard work, coupled with art teacher Ms. MacLure’s guidance, often pays off when a large envelope with the word “accepted” printed on the front arrives from their dream school.

Ms. MacLure started the art club in the fall of 2014 as a way to help students successfully apply to art school. The club has become a creative place where students are inspired, share ideas, explore art school options, and work in a collaborative environment with other students from every grade and level of artistry. The upperclassmen are often preparing for art school application deadlines, and working on portfolio projects such as observational and experimental drawings, as well as large scale works of art. The underclassmen, unsure of their artistic futures, see the art club as an opportunity to work with new materials and tune into their creative sides.

The art club reinforces the 21st century skills taught at BVT by giving students another medium to apply their skills to. Art programs also create what Project Zero (the research division of Harvard’s School of Education) refer to as Studio Habits of Mind, which is a set of skills artists use that help expand critical thinking skills across all disciplines.

The art club gives students skills to use in all facets of their lives while showing them different ways their love of art can transcend high school to become a college degree and a lifelong career. The club often hosts artists, who tell their stories and provide tips to students, and admissions counselors from area art schools, who give presentations so students can be well informed of their educational options.

This year, the art club kicked off its visiting artist series when painter Ida Floreak visited the group to give advice to the aspiring artists and offer individual critiques of student portfolios. Floreak is a New Orleans based painter whose work has been on display in the Ogden Museum of Art, as well as other New Orleans galleries. Students lined up for the opportunity to get a fresh set of eyes on their work.

A few weeks later, the first of many art schools visited the program when Rhode Island School of Art and Design (RISD) admissions officer Melanie Patterson gave a presentation to students that covered the freshman year experience, major programs offered, and admissions requirements. The students’ eyes were glued to the projector as their minds raced with artistic possibilities.

“Art is really my passion, so it’s my biggest goal every year to help these kids get into the art schools of their dreams,” Ms. MacLure said.

The passion Ms. MacLure has is palpable in the art room, and students are feeding off of her excitement and positivity as they enter the stressful college application process.

“Students I’ve mentored have been accepted to art schools like RISD, Savannah College of Art and Design, Art Institute of Boston, and Ringling College of Art. If the students are willing to put in the work, and it’s a lot of work, then things usually go really well for them,” Ms. MacLure said.

One things for sure, the art program and art club at BVT are allowing students to draw a bright future – literally.

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