Thursday, 29 May 2008

Greenville High's Jernigan uses dance to teach art

By Kathryn McKenzie, City People Writer
Published: May 7, 2008

It's hard for Hilary Jernigan to hide her love for art.

"I knew as a freshman in high school that I wanted to be an artist," she says. "My passion was in art."

Jernigan teaches art I, II, III and IV at Greenville High School and is a working artist herself. Much of her personal love for what she does is shared with her students by showing them the endless possibilities and variations that art can bring.

"I'm a non-representational artist. A lot of my work is purely compositional. It doesn't have subject matter," Jernigan says. Non-representational art focuses on shape, color and space.

To incorporate her medium and to help the students grasp the concept of non-representational art, Jernigan brought in another art form into the classroom -- dance. Jernigan says that with the help of dance, the students were able to see the pure concepts of composition.

"I have real passion for modern dance," she says. "So overlapping those two concepts was to me, very natural ... and I wanted the students to see composition in modern dance and composition in modern art is very similar."

To teach the concept of compositional art, Jernigan paired up with a teacher from the Fine Arts Center, Jan Woodward, to teach a unit on dance and art.

"The kids drew from watching the dancers," Jernigan says. "We sent artwork over to the Fine Arts Center and the dancers created some original choreography off of the artwork. Then when we got together, they did the dance for us and the students continued to work off of the dancers choreography, so it was a reciprocal process."

There's always an aesthetic beauty to Jernigan's medium and she recognized that about dance, as well. Both art forms deal with shapes. "It's all about shape, a lot of positive and negative space," she says. "Dance is a composition that's always changing and moving. After college, as my work began to mature more, I began to see that relationship.

"The first time I really saw wonderful modern dance was when I watched Alvin Ailey's dance company, " she says. "The composition was so moving and shocking. It's three-dimensional art constantly changing, it's kinetic art."


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