Art U ‘brings art into people’s homes’ through university, 4-H partnership

Student show by local students at UW-Stout through May 6
Abbey Goers | May 3, 2022

Art education majors at University of Wisconsin-Stout and Arts Integration Menomonie partnered with 4-H Club educators in Dunn, Chippewa and Eau Claire counties to bring online art classes to their students in kindergarten through seventh grade this spring.

An Art U 4-H student.
An Art U 4-H student / Ann Oberding

About 40 students were involved in Art U, taught by four preservice art teachers. Their creative works are on display through Friday, May 6, at the university’s Heritage Hall, first floor lobby.

The themes of the work vary between grade levels, and mediums vary from drawing, watercolor, printmaking and beading. 

The opportunity for online art teaching arose when the challenges brought on by the pandemic put many preservice teaching experiences on hold, explained art education Program Director Ann Oberding. A grant from AIM allowed for reduced programming cost.


Art U 4-H student Lily S. and Ann Oberding
Art U 4-H student Lily S. and Ann Oberding / Ann Oberding

“Being able to bring art into people’s homes is important, especially during times of crisis,” she said. “Like many other teacher preparation programs, we struggled to find ways to continue to support our students' growth as educators. It took an amazing amount of hours, people and preparation for this series of classes to take place.

Oberding met with Assistant Professor Tami Weiss, AIM executive director, and Dunn County 4-H Program Educator Luisa Gerasimo in fall 2021 to discuss how to support 4-H students with art, as well as help build the competence and confidence of art education preservice teachers.

This is the second time UW-Stout and AIM have partnered with the Dunn County 4-H.

For Susan Krahn, this is her family’s second year participating in an A.I.M. virtual art experience. “I love how my children have learned new art techniques and ways to be creative,” she said. “We wouldn't come up with these great art project ideas on our own, and Art U makes it easy with basic art supplies at home.”


Lily S.'s 3D painted turtle
Lily Schwartz's 3D painted turtle / Ann Oberding

Lily Schwartz, a 4-H high school student, has enjoyed using everyday materials to enhance her artwork. 

“I've always been fascinated by 3D paintings; however, I never could figure out how to accomplish such a piece. I was thrilled to learn how to by using toilet paper and cardboard on canvas,” she said.

Her mother, Beth, added, “Lily has been able to watch and listen to some of the college art educators while creating her piece. This is an amazing opportunity for her to be in the art ed department at one of the universities that is high on her list, in a field she wants to pursue. For us, this isn't just about the art she will create, but the observation and learning that is happening at the same time.”


UW-Stout preservice art teachers / Ann Oberding

Oberding is proud of her preservice art teachers. “They rock,” she said. “They know that their presence and the visual arts will make a difference in the world. They are dedicated and are willing to go the extra mile to gain knowledge and practice and help to build a community that loves art.”

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