ALPENA — For Monroe Baldwin, art allows her to be creative and gives her a chance to relax from the stresses of life.
“It’s always been my outlet,” said Baldwin, an art student at Alpena Community College.
ACC President Don MacMaster recently told The News that the fine arts program – headed by Brian Schorn – is thriving and students and instructors say they are enthusiastic about the courses and the direction of the program.
Angel Burcar, a freshman liberal arts student, said Thursday that she took the ACC’s Design 1 course to meet a requirement, but was taking the Design 2 course for fun.
Burcar and Baldwin said design classes are a way for them to get lost in art and relax from the stresses of life and other classes. Burcar said all of her other classes are online, so the arts program gives her a chance to come to class and interact with other students.
“‘I want to see what you’re going to do next,'” art teacher Jason Allen Pemberton said as the students said to each other. “They feed off each other.”
Pemberton, an ACC graduate, is in his first year teaching art at ACC. He traveled and worked for 20 years in Corporate America after graduating and said he came full circle with his return home.
“I went to the ACC,” Pemberton said. “It was a springboard for my career”
Pemberton said he bought a studio across the river from college and plans for students to help him renovate cedar and concrete salvaged from the area to create a sculpture garden in outdoors in the spring as well as murals.
The students said they were enthusiastic about the classes and the enthusiasm of their instructor.
“He’s new and he’s nice,” Burcar said. “He is doing a very good job. He is friendly and optimistic. Jason is fun and he makes sure everyone understands everything.
Burcar said his confidence level has improved so much in just one year.
“I’m fully learning something,” Burcar said. “In other classes you just memorize things for the test, but with that you can really see the progress on paper.”
Baldwin, who took four years of art at Alcona High School, said his high school art teacher taught him how to finish his work and find the confidence to see it through.
“Jason is doing the same thing, but taking it to a whole new level,” Baldwin said. “He really pushes you to grow and step out of your comfort zone,” Baldwin said. “It really sets you up for success.”
Pemberton said technology and digital tools are great, but he would like to see more emphasis and funding given to hands-on, real-life programs like the ACC’s fine arts program.
According to Pemberton, the college hasn’t had a painting class in years and he’s brought it back because he feels it’s a valuable tool for teaching students how to practice their problem-solving skills in the real world.
“Some people these days don’t even know how to use a ruler,” Pemberton said. “I have nothing against computers, but we need a balance. These are the skills that art can give. The power of a hammer in your hand.