Art department encourages students to pursue artistic passions


Greta Diehl

Jamila Washington and Karissa Bonds, juniors, bond over their paintings.

Paints and paintbrushes brush color onto canvases of artwork, but also drive creativity within the hearts of artists. The art department uses mixed media to inspire and cultivate growth within the students.
Art can be seen in the architecture of buildings, to the fabrication of worlds within video games, to the design process of apps and much more.
“Everywhere you look, anything you rest your eyes on, an artist designed it,” Kat Hustedde, art teacher said.
Although passion for art exists, many go through their daily lives without it crossing their mind. Many people assume that because they are not naturally talented at art, that they should not pursue it. Gina Ruchalski, art teacher, wants students to know that art is not only meant for those who create mind blowing pieces.
“There is often a myth in our culture and schools that people are either born artistic, or not. The myth is simply not true,” Ruchalski said.
The goal of the art department is to push students to dig deep into expressing themselves through creation. There are countless opportunities within the department for students to explore their talents and develop new skills.
“I think students are often intimidated by some of the classes or feel like they are not skilled enough to take a class. High school is the time to try something new. Whatever your skill level, we have classes that can work for you at your current level,” Ruchalski said.
High school is full of many kids just making their way through. In order to test the potential of all possible abilities, graduation requirements include fine arts credits.
Through classes that drive pupils to discover what may be an uncomfortable way of thinking, they are able to discover new things about themselves. Art teachers at Homestead have discovered that self expression through art is essential to cultivating confidence in insecure and lost teenage students.
“It’s a real blessing to watch kids create art, they grow in their confidence and abilities,” Katie Nowak, art teacher, said.
Confidence in capabilities can restore confidence in oneself, giving a path to a once lost teenager.
“Art is the process of expressing our humanity, it’s a part of us. (We can) become (our)selves through art,” Hustedde said.
A typical high school schedule is filled with hundreds of numbers, letters, languages and more. The “burnt out” feeling that students experience is due to an overload of information, and the mental exhaustion that comes with it.
Incorporating an art class into a daily school schedule allows students to take a break from this packed day. It engages the other side of their brain and encourages them to think outside of the box.
“Art class is a right-brain class to add to your day, that adds balance. It can keep your emotions in line during your school day,” Hustedde said.
Outside of the classroom, there are many spaces for students to showcase their art.
An upcoming art show will highlight art pieces from students. It will be hosted by Homestead’s National Art Honors Society chapter on May 19 at 6 p.m, in Collaboration Zone East.
For the past 12 years, Homestead has participated in the Scholastic Art Competition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. From there, winners move to the national competition.
Cedarburg art shows have showcased student’s work, such as those at the Cedarburg Art Museum and Cultural Center.
Annually, students have the opportunity to showcase their work in the Festival of the Arts at UW Milwaukee at Washington County.
The final exam for the digital art class uses a real client for the students to create for. In the past they have created new logos and designs for the local coffee shop.
“It’s important that students are connected with the community, they get recognized for their skills, they build confidence through the acknowledgement for their gifts. These events showcase what we do as a department and gives students a segway to real world art opportunities,” Hustedde said.
The importance of showcasing work is very apparent within the eyes of the art teachers, as well as growing the self esteem within the students.
“We have more recognition within the school and community,” Nowak said.
Students who feel they may want to pursue art, either in high school or beyond, should utilize the tools in store for them at Homestead. The gateway to success is broad and there may be many different pathways to get there.
“If you are thinking about taking art class, you have a place in the art wing with us,” Ruchalski said.