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Briarcliff Bridging History, Technology With Art

BRAIRCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – For Briarcliff art teacher John Brooks, introducing students to art is becoming more about using a computer mouse and less about using a paintbrush.

For art teacher Jessica Dubin, art is all about showing its context within the world as a whole and remembering what inspired artists of the past.

More than 100 Briarcliff Middle School students presented dozens of pieces of artwork Tuesday night at the school as part of the district’s Art and Music Fest . The festival, which dates back more than 20 years, features performances from the school orchestra and jazz bands, short films and hundreds of paintings, photography and ceramics from every art student in the Briarcliff School District .

“We’re taking drawing and painting a little bit further using animation programs and drawing software on the computer,” Brooks said. “I think the kids are really excited when they get into computer art. It’s a much different structure than how art classes have been taught in the past. We’re able to do so much more now with new technologies.”

While many adults might need weeks of instruction before taking hold of the techniques, Brooks said the students at Briarcliff Middle School are adapting quickly to the new tools.

“Awhile back, you would have to show someone how a computer mouse works and how to animate with it,” Brooks said. “But these kids pick it up right away and they’re having a lot of fun with it. It’s pretty great.”

Meanwhile, Dubin said she teaches students traditional art techniques in order to provide a balance to the technology.

“I’m kind of the counter-balance to (Brooks’) program,” Dubin said. “I really want kids to get their hands into things and really use fine motor skills they don’t use in other places.”

Dubin said the balance is important for the students to excel at not only art, but all kinds of learning.

“Every project we have has some sort of historical or cultural reference and we try to incorporate what they’re learning in their other classes and relate it to the art world,” Dubin said, noting an example that students learned Native American pottery at the same time they were learning Native American history in other classes. “We try to teach the students that art is a part of their world and that art history is a part of history.”

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