Art professor adds color to classroom

Passionate, enthusiastic, inspirational are characteristics of art professor Oliver Schemm. In a recent class, Schemm was running around his classroom grabbing different pieces of art to describe a single project as if it was a masterpiece of his own.
His eyes are piercing and filled with excitement. His arms and hands fly around, yet his voice calm and collective. Students in Schemm’s Studio Art class are learning more than just art skills, their learning skills that they will use for life.
Painting, drawing, and sculpting are all terms associated with art. However, there is something much deeper than creating pieces of art going on in the Fine Arts Center in Castleton. Schemm is teaching his intro to studio art students something much more valuable than how to draw a picture. He’s creating an atmosphere for students to use their creativity and their minds to overcome everyday problems they face.
“It’s not necessarily about manipulation with different materials, it’s about ways of dealing with problems … Going from point A to point B for a human being from a problem to solving it is incredibly important, because that skill – you’re going to use for the rest of your life and it doesn’t matter what discipline you’re in,” Schemm said.
Schemm’s energy fills the room as he bounces from table to table checking on students and their works of art.
 Helping his students get to their own “ah-ha” moment is the reason why he teaches.
“No teacher is going to be able to get a student to that ‘ah-ha’ moment. They can’t make it happen, but they can help it. It’s not even like fireworks or anything like that, it’s in the eyes, it’s in a smile, and it’s like suddenly, boom, it happens, and there is a connection,” he said.
So, do the students realize what they are really getting out of the class? Junior Nikki Lauzier, who is a perfectionist, says the projects can be frustrating, but she has learned to work through her frustrations with the support of her professor has been able to overcome her problems.
“I’ve had to learn to not give up and to keep going,” Lauzier said.
But not all lessons learned in Schemm’s classes have a deep meaning about creativity, perseverance, and problem solving. Some are blunt and quite obvious.
Junior Connor Gibeault learned another lesson the previous week when he was talking out of turn in class.
“Last week I learned not to talk during lectures. Oliver got mad,” said Gibeault.
Schemm’s goal is to get everyone comfortable in his class so that they take chances.
“If you’re willing to take chances and keep an open mind then you’ll succeed in an art class, and maybe learn a bit about your own creativity side,” Schemm said.
And for everyone who isn’t an art major, Schemm has a message for you.
“Everyone has a creative possibility, it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s not about making a picture or making a sculpture, it’s about the act of creativity,” he said. “You can live a creative life.”

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