Fiona MacCrimmon, 17, is a high school senior from Madison, Wis. She took a new UW–Madison Summer Term precollege summer art program called Imaging Self, a three-week residential program in which high school students experience different art forms, work with artists and faculty, and learn about themselves through artistic expression. The students selected one of three tracks: visual art, dance, or theater.
Students lived in Slichter Hall along the shore of Lake Mendota. Each morning, they immersed themselves in the discipline of their choice while working in small groups to improve their craft and develop a strong portfolio. In the afternoons, they combined artistic media. They explored art as an academic pursuit and a reflection of society. They also learned about applying to college and earned college credit.
MacCrimmon said the course was transformative for her. It sparked creativity, introduced her to new friends, and put her on a path to studying art in college.
Having this college experience was really fun and taught me a lot. We ate all of our meals at the dining halls—and the food was good! We took the bus to our classroom or the Art Lofts. The facilities really impressed me. Our counselors were there to help us find our way around, but we got a lot of room to be independent.
In the visual arts track, I got to learn a whole new medium that I had never heard of before. We made screens and did a lot of screen printing on paper, but we also screen printed on glass. We spent time in the UW glass lab, which was definitely my favorite space.
Even though you picked one track, you got to learn about the other tracks, too. It took me out of my comfort zone. We did theater and drama. The poet Fabu came in and taught us to write poetry. We even learned African dances from another guest teacher.
One of the best parts of the program was the people. My fellow art students became my good friends. It was a huge bonding experience. There were only 10 of us, so we really got to know each other and spent a lot of time together. We still get together now after the class has ended.
The instructors were amazing. Learning from them was a highlight. They were helpful and supportive and open to new things. Adriana [Barrios, a visual arts instructor] would carefully listen and help me execute my ideas. Our dance instructor Mary [Patterson] broke the tension and taught us cool things that we all loved.
Our exhibition for family and friends on the last day of class was very special. The students planned everything. We had artwork hung in Bascom Hall. We set up a screen printing area for people to print their own T-shirts. A friend of mine wrote a song about our group and we all sang it during the program.
One of my favorite memories was staying up late as a group the night before the exhibition. We were all working together to finish a zine that a friend and I created. We scanned, stapled, and just laughed and had fun. It was so sad to say goodbye to my friends on the last day.
This course absolutely made me think about my future. Even though I’ve lived in Madison my whole life, the class helped me get to know the campus and realize that it’s a really cool place to be! It felt like the perfect college trial. It pushed me to pursue my goal of attending UW–Madison in the fall as an arts major. I’m getting my portfolio together with a lot of things I created in the course. I’m excited about what’s next!
Imaging Self is a UW–Madison Summer Term precollege summer art program that draws experienced instructors from the university’s art, dance, and theater departments, as well as artists from the community. The program is open to high school juniors and seniors of all skill and experience levels. The main requirement is an interest in art and self-expression. Participants can earn three college credits in this course. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608-263-6960.