An annual tradition for over a decade, Senior Selectives has been an outlet for our seniors during the two weeks between finishing their classes and AP exams and graduation. These extracurricular workshops and trips are on a first-come, first-serve sign-up basis. Various teachers offer on-campus activities, featuring topics like transition college/life skills, film screenings, or hobbies and recreation, which are then followed by classroom visits from seniors to our youngest students in the Lower School . Other teachers opt to lead service trips to places such as the Bergen Family Center or the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, where students volunteer their time.
A favorite Senior Selective is glassblowing with Senior Visual Arts teacher Marisol Diaz, who explains how “most of my Advanced Placement art students were aware of my former experience with glass techniques… [so] students were very interested in learning more about the process and were sure to sign up quickly.”
Nine lucky Class of 2014 students thus traveled to Urban Glass in Brooklyn in late May, where they were exposed to the new art form, sculpting technique, material and the kind of facilities in which glass artists gather to work in that material.
Ms. Diaz explains: “Glassblowing has designated team roles in which everyone’s job is crucial to the process. The glass furnace melts glass to around 2,400 degrees and there is as much science in comprehending how to manipulate the material – and how to maintain it workable as there is design and artistic fortitude, if not more. Therefore, it is a phenomenal teaching tool in which presence, awareness, attentiveness and proactive teamwork is critical. One person may gather and form the glass with a wooden block, while another team member blows, while yet another may take reheats, and yet another may shield or open furnace doors. The collaboration is quick, effective and critical for the success of a piece. All along, the science of how the glass is behaving is paramount.”
This was not the first year Ms. Diaz, herself a mixed-media glass artist, has taught glassblowing to high school students before, as she remarks: “Witnessing the consciousness and awareness of such thing as glassblowing to students is often life changing. It’s just a whole part of the world and potential they have never witnessed before. The fusion of science and art is exhilarating to students. As for getting to share a deep personal passion of mine with my D-E community and my AP students, it was priceless, and the solidarity forged by working under such intense conditions together gave us an irreplaceable bond before graduation.”
To enjoy a video and more artworks photos of these seniors’ ‘select’ glassblowing experience, please visit the D-E Visual Arts blog at www.d-e.org/arts.