New art teacher encourages students to think critically

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Art, Electives

New art teacher Gail McFarland works with Makenzee Renowden on a project. (Photo by Bailey Beringer)

By Kelsey Martinez
Staff writer

This year Gail McFarland began her first year teaching art class at Cactus Canyon Junior High and, so far, her classes are doing some pretty interesting things.
Several projects McFarland is planning include a mural for Apache Junction Animal Control, hanging students art work in the Superstition Art House on Apache Trail, and displaying students work on an online gallery known as Artsonia. Artsonia is a kids art museum where young artists and students display their art for other kids worldwide to view.
Students will incorporates skills from science, English, and math during art class.
“Art history is taught with emphasis on political and social environment that surrounded the movement,” said Mrs. McFarland. “I incorporate state standards from other subjects and work as a support unit for all other departments. This approach not only strengthens the individual student, but the school as a whole.”
Mrs. McFarland has been teaching both art and science for five years, making this her first year teaching all art classes. Overall she has been teaching for 15 years. She got her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado and then her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix.
Her favorite artist is Frida Kahlo de Rivera because she combined elements of the classic religious Mexican tradition with surrealist renderings.
Mrs. McFarland enjoys teaching all media and believes the most rewarding experience is when a student engages in critical thinking skill and can use art as a visual communication tool. She said she wants to teach students that great art is not about individual colors, but rather how they work together.
“I love all colors. Colors do not stand alone,” said Mrs. McFarland. “It is how you combine them that makes them come alive.”

  1. Mr. LaPrise says:

    Mrs. McFarland is doing an awesome job. I can not wait to see the Animal Shelter when finished. Have you seen her students’ artwork in the office and library?

  2. Abby says:

    Yes. I have seen the artwork in the library and I think that it is all wonderful. Mrs. McFarland seems like a wonderful art teacher who cares about art and the kids doing the work just like Mrs. Harshman. I also love how she is so educated on art and takes it seriously!

  3. Jessica Kucenski says:

    Nicely written article! As a science teacher, I really like the fact that we have other teachers incorporating different subjects into their classes. I try to do the same…as my students know, we do a lot of art in science.

  4. Joyce Gingrich says:

    Mrs. McFarland has been a fantastic addition to our CCJH staff! Her room is cheerful and a fun place to visit…always something interesting going on. The student work on display in the office is amazing!

  5. Alexis says:

    Nicely written !
    I was in Mrs.Mcfarand Art class last semester. It was really fun in there she was always thinking of neat ideas for us to do.

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