virtual learning

Seeing the self through the gray rectangle of Zoom

Lincoln City students blend art with technology to create self-portraits using concrete, foam, and wood during a year of virtual learning

For most of the past year, Taft High School teacher Noah Lambie has worked largely with his junior and senior high students tuning in from their computers at home. It can be a trying means of teaching, but also one with surprisingly positive reactions. 

“It’s funny, there’s always hesitation with a new project,” said Lambie, an art design/physics instructor. “At first, when I come up with some of these kind of wild ideas, they are bobbing their heads in video land.”

Yuritzi Cuellar-Pacheco, Taft High School senior, self-portrait
Yuritzi Cuellar-Pacheco, Taft High School senior, used concrete, Baltic birch wood and black acrylic to create her self-portrait.

It’s a look he describes as, “OK, don’t really know what is going on yet.”  Then he answers some questions, helps however he can, and eventually students get on board.

“But by the end of this one, they were saying, ‘Whoa, those are rad.’ They were feeling good about this.”

“This” would be portraits created from various materials, including concrete, foam, wood, and acrylic. The finished pieces, along with traditional art created by other Taft students, are the latest exhibit in the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s PJ Chessman Gallery, opening Friday and running through April 5. The live virtual gallery opening will be at 4 p.m. March 12, hosted by gallery director Krista Eddy on Facebook.

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The assignment is one of the ways Lambie attempts to prepare his students for life beyond high school by blending art with technology. Now in his 11th year of teaching at the Lincoln City School, Lambie began his career teaching art and physics.

Lambie said he learned early in his career about Career and Technical Education, which lets instructors focus on a profession, and by doing so, gives them access to funds earmarked to develop academic, career, and technical programs. “That allows you to build a program to try to prepare students for jobs and careers,” he said. “That’s what my art led to.”

Lambie comes up with the ideas, bringing to the project a mix of art and digital design. While critics say work produced digitally or with some other “machine” takes away from creativity, Lambie said it calls for at least as much creativity. Graphic design offers tools that might come in handy for magazine art, while digital technology relies more on computers, software, and printers.

“When you get to know the process, you see how much goes into it and all the options available in that digital world,” he said. “It gives them an experience with a process that can be applied all across our world now.”