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Expressive art at Victor High School
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Expressive art at Victor High School

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Victor High School Art Educator Jennifer Ogden took her printmaking class outside the first week of school to experience abstract expressionism and explore the style of Jackson Pollock.

Students did some soap and spray paint masking then got the feel of action painting on a large scale.

“They came up with strategies that would enable them to paint without necessarily touching the canvas,” Ogden said. “Some poured, dripped, or flung their colors while others whipped the paper with wet strings tied to sticks. One student enjoyed throwing paint-soaked sponges at the paper or squeezing them out.”

Student Oatis Marjerison said he enjoyed the process.

“Action expressionism to me was the ability to express myself with the assistance of an art form that is free of worry while creating and being in tune with the flow and just going with it,” he said. “One of my favorite painting actions was taking a paintbrush that I dipped in paint, and then swinging my arm while squatting low as if I were releasing a Frisbee into the air aiming for the canvas.”

Freshman Tony Martinez said the experience was freeing.

“Abstract expressionism in my words would be the most random movements when creating the art but you're still in control of those movements,” he said. “I would also that your emotions are what drive the brush. Since I had spray paint I thought I could let my emotions control my hand and where the paint went. This is where I understood abstract art a little better and where that ‘feeling’ for the art came from.”

Ogden is a Montana Teacher Leader for the Arts (MTLA) alumna and does shows of her work regionally thanks to the Montana Artrepreneurial Program (MAP) both are offered through the Montana Arts Council.

“These programs have been professional game changers and I highly recommend them,” Ogden said.

As for the outside class experience at Victor High School, Ogden said the idea was to try to get the paint to speak for itself, with student energy and action directing how the picture would build upon itself.

“We got to use large paper outdoors because scale was important to Jackson Pollock,” Ogden said. “Pollock was influenced by Guzton Borglum as he sculpted the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.”

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