High school art students at the UoR

University of Redlands opens doors to high school art students

Yucaipa High School graduate Alejandra Becerra holds up a bronze sculpture she made at during a week-long class for regional high school art students offered for the first time by the University of Redlands. (Beau Yarbrough/Staff)

REDLANDS - A dozen Inland Empire high school students and recent graduates got hands-on art training at the collegiate level this week.
"We had been wanting and talking about doing this for at least 10 years," Penny McElroy, a professor of art at the University of Redlands, said Friday. "The idea was to bring our neighbors in."

The program was free for the students, who are nominated by their high school art teachers. The university provided lunch, art materials and transportation if required.

"Art at the high school level has been attacked in the budget process," McElroy said. "What we're hoping to do eventually is expand the program, do more than one week."

This week, the students spent the mornings sculpting, with the ultimate result a small-but-heavy bronze sculpture. Afternoons were spent learning Photoshop and digital illustration. Students used their newly acquired digital skills to create super-powered self-portraits of themselves and illustrate the soundtrack of a movie of their lives.

"They have made tremendous progress," McElroy said.

McElroy has been teaching college students since 1984, and said even college students sometimes get tired by the long studio sessions: College classes typically run three hours at a time, while the high school students this week spent two and a half hours both before and after lunch working.
"But these kids have been great," she said. "We could probably do more; they don't seem to be tired at all."

For Cassandra Fisher, a 2012 graduate from Yucaipa High School, the program was a chance to study art in a college environment, with different rules and expectations.

"I raised my hand and asked if the songs could cuss," or if she'd have to find a clean version of the songs, "and they said `no, this is college."'
"The teachers are not responsible if you're not here and they don't judge," said Alejandra Becerra, a 2012 Yucaipa High School graduate, who will be attending Cal State Fullerton in the fall, studying biology with the ultimate goal of being a gynecologist. "They let you be."

"It's actually been fun," said Raymond Delgado, a 2012 Redlands High School graduate. His bronze sculpture depicted a stylized howling animal. "I was thinking about doing it as a career."

The administration has been supportive of the program, Professor Ra l Acero said. He hopes to bring in high school art teachers, in a separate additional week next summer

"It's one of the best things I've been a part of in my whole career," Acero said. "I'd love to do it again."

How large is the main campus?
160 acres

The campus of the University of Redlands covers 160 acres.