Student works featured in first permanent art installation at GGC

Student art hanging in the student center.

Newly installed, large-scale art work adds splashes of color to the second floor of the Georgia Gwinnett College Student Center. The student works are the first permanent art installations on the campus. 

Several art appreciation students have made a creative, permanent mark on Georgia Gwinnett College, thanks to one faculty member’s efforts to instill in her students a genuine love for art.  
The project was the brainchild of Dr. Carolina Blatt-Gross, assistant professor of art. She hoped that by involving her art appreciation students in the creation of original art work, they would connect with the course content and their environment, as well as improve their ability to communicate in visual terms.
Today, the resulting, large-scale art works are located in GGC’s Center for Teaching Excellence, the School of Liberal Arts dean’s suite and Student Center – the college’s first permanent art installations.
“Most students take art appreciation to meet a core requirement, so participating in the full arc of artistic production from conceptualization to installation seemed a great way to make the content more meaningful,” Blatt-Gross said. “Students tend to be more invested in their campus and have more positive feelings toward it if they have some control over its appearance.” 
The art project took about six weeks and involved four different classes in designing and producing nine works each in acrylic paint on canvas. The process included a critique during which all of the proposed designs were displayed so the students could discuss the merits and possibilities of their favorite designs. Afterward, each class voted to select the winning designs, which were then executed collaboratively by the entire class. 
Linda Rakowiecki, a 48-year-old psychology major from Lawrenceville, created one of the winning concepts – an abstract piece featuring grizzly bears in a range of colors. 
“In anything you do, you need to learn skills, practice them, and be able to deal with mistakes in order to perfect them,” Rakowiecki said.  “That’s a lesson that can be applied to multiple areas in the learning process and life in general.” 
The project taught students about more than just art. Blatt-Gross designed the project to cultivate a host of other attributes, such as working in diverse groups, respecting the opinions and ideas of others, learning to compromise and solve problems, using tools to build something with one’s hands, and recognizing the importance of details. 
“While the artistic skills they gain may be useful, it’s the nature of thinking required to navigate this complex project that is the ultimate benefit,” she said. “This project helps students develop divergent modes of problem solving using a perspective that is often alien to the linear, positivist thinking favored by the STEM disciplines.”
“I feel that everyone has some sort of artistic potential, that when discovered, can grow into something that can be carried on throughout life,” said Brandon Pineda, a student from Norcross. “The project is relevant for all of GGC’s student body because art is a strong and wide subject that should be in everyone’s life in some way, giving insight on themselves as artists as well as their potential.”
Given the project’s success, Blatt-Gross is repeating it this semester and looks forward to enriching the ever-expanding campus with more student works. 
“I think the students’ minds are blown when they see their art work transform blank walls into dynamic spaces,” she said. “This project is an example of how the ability to think artistically can elevate ideas from ordinary to extraordinary.”
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