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Fine Arts program at Portage College offers course and class options

"It's such a good time to be an artist." The words of Portage College Fine Arts instructor Pierre Oberg paint a picture of opportunity in the college's latest certificate program.

“It’s such a good time to be an artist.”

Those words from Portage College Fine Arts instructor Pierre Oberg paint a picture of opportunity at the college’s latest certificate program.

Video game designer, art therapist, architect, commercial artist, cultural planner ... tattoo artist, the opportunities are there.

“There are so many interesting career opportunities,” says Oberg, an experienced instructor and artist in a variety of mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpture, print-making, digital arts and mixed media. 

Learn what you need

The one-year certificate program, which has its first class of full-time students at the Lac La Biche campus this term, is fully transferable for students moving toward their Bachelor of Fine Arts. Classes in the Lac La Biche-based program are also available to part-time and casual students looking to register for individual courses to brush up on painting skills, pencil in some drawing time or mould a better understanding of sculpting. Some students taking individual classes are already students in other full-time programs offered at the college.

The diversity of the programming and its scheduling is matched by the diversity of students, says Oberg, who encourages learners with any range of skills to register.

“We encourage people with various backgrounds of life experience, art experience and age ... it’s inclusive and collaborative,” said Oberg who has been a museum, historic site and gallery curator, an instructor at Red Deer College’s Fine Arts program, and most recently an instructor in Portage’s Native Arts program. “Having taught for many years, I realize that collaborative and inclusive classrooms are the richest settings. We are open and accessible to all levels of learners.”

Likening learners with no art experience to a “blank canvas,” Oberg says the program can teach anyone to draw competently or paint, or learn about the history of art. What people do with that learning is as varied as the program itself.

“It can further a career, start a new one, or simply be a new learned skill,” he said.

Workshops share the art

The offerings of the program and Oberg’s teaching can also be used for groups looking for professional development opportunities. 

Getting early learners interested in the potential of art was the focus of a recent workshop hosted by the college’s Fine Arts program.

A day-long workshop gave invited art teachers from schools around the region the opportunity to learn new skills, network and take back ideas to students in grade school. The day of activities drew more than a dozen art teachers from schools in Lac La Biche, Plamondon, Athabasca, Bonnyville, Cold Lake  and Vermilion. The participants created monotype prints — formed by painting onto a flat metallic printing plate and transferring the image onto paper that is rolled through a printing press — as well as decorative paper-structured lights resembling Japanese paper lanterns.

“We wanted to make art and have fun. We want to share the knowledge that the teachers bring to the table and share the knowledge that we have — all learning from each other,” Oberg said.

Lyla Allan, the Community Social Work & Fine Arts Coordinator at Portage said the full-time students, casual learners and groups like the visiting teachers can help to expand the reach of the new program — and that is exciting.

“We are excited about the Arts Education Workshop that we are offering to the teachers in the school division,” Allan told the POST in the days before the workshop. “This professional development opportunity is a great way for us to showcase our Fine Arts program.”

More workshop opportunities for community members as well as professional development are planned in the coming months. 

More details on the course can be found here.