Carlmont’s visual arts program builds foundation for creativity


Aleyda Contreras

In F Hall, the walls are covered in displays, full of student photos, paintings, and drawings. The walls serve as an exposition of their hard work.

Cameras, clay, paint, sketchbooks, and photos come to life under the guidance of creative visionaries in Carlmont’s visual arts program.

Students have a vast array of classes and clubs available to them to choose, from Illustration and Design 1 to Digital Art, Photography, or Ceramics.

“Art in education is essential, especially in school, because it allows you to express your feelings and emotions safely,” said Grace Xu, a sophomore taking Illustration and Design 1.

Whether it be meeting a graduation requirement, or pursuing a passion, the versatile program has something in store for everyone. Anyone, no matter the grade level, can take Art 1 and Digital Art 1. These introductory classes help students build a strong foundation to incorporate art into their life.

“Anybody can do art as long as you put effort into it — everyone, no matter the skill level. It adds creativity to your daily life and gives inspiration to thoughts and feelings,” said Tina Condo, the Ceramics teacher.

The foundation the art program lays and the skills they expand on allows people to communicate what they cannot otherwise express, and learn life-long lessons that can help them grow into more creative thinkers.

“It’s important because creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Knowing which ones to keep is what makes art. It’s a personal process,” said Aysha Santos, a junior.

The creative process is also crucial to learners developing new mental faculties. The art teachers, Condo, Cynthia Hodges, Julia Schulman, and Josh Sheridan, want to help Carlmont students improve their critical thinking abilities, to not only grow in their creative studies but academics as well.

“If you’re not able to think creatively, you’re not able to build something from nothing. Art teaches you how to come up with an abstract idea and make something concrete out of it. It grows neurons in your brain, it makes you smarter, and it’s fun,” said Schulman, the Illustration and Design teacher,

A 2019 study, conducted by the Brookings Institute, found that students in the Houston area were significantly impacted by the presence of the arts in school. Standardized writing scores improved, on average, about 13%. These students also became more socially adept; there was a significant increase in compassion for others, and disciplinary infractions were reduced.

The artistic opportunities at Carlmont allow some to consider the possibility of entering a creative career path. Tessa Metzger, an Illustration and Design 1 student, joined the program because she wants to make a career out of her artwork.

“This class, in a way, shows me the broad spectrum of options I could choose from for a final professional job,” Metzger said.

Contrary to popular belief, there is a growing need for creatives in the workforce. Tucker Marion, an associate professor at Northeastern University’s School of Business, noted that Apple had a competitive edge over their rival Samsung, due to their strong incorporation of design and user experience in their products. These integrations can only come about due to strong creative talent within the company.

“I think there’s a misconception around making careers about art. There’s a lot of careers right now for artists. It’s a huge industry, and it’s growing as we speak,” Schulman said.

The workforce today needs innovation due to the automation of many jobs. According to the Brookings Institute, about a quarter of American jobs will be threatened by automation or artificial intelligence. Repetitive tasks will be pushed out of the workforce, and workers will have to innovate to stay employed.

“Today, everything is computerized, so a lot of times people are looking for more creative people to hire since computers and machines are covering many basic tasks. I think, in the past, creativity has been pushed aside in the workforce,” Condo said.

The Monster predicts that job demand for advertisement and marketing will grow to 10% by 2026. This expected growth is a result of technological advances that will demand an online, aesthetic presence, which will lead to increased interest for employees in areas like animation, game design, web design, and more.

The job opportunities, skill-building, and creative freedoms that are afforded to students are some of the many reasons why the Carlmont visual arts program is so popular. The students in the program hope that more people will take an interest in the arts.

“I encourage anyone to join the program. Anyone can pick up a pencil and put it to paper,” Xu said.