Virtual Visiting Artist Inspires Love-Themed Student Projects in a Variety of Disciplines

Working off the prompt “I was born to love, not to hate,” St. Margaret’s visual arts students created myriad of projects under the guidance of professional artist Alexandra Grant, who served as a virtual artist-in-residence and worked with Tartans from the Lower School through the Upper School.

Each visual arts discipline worked remotely with Ms. Grant and explored the concept of love-inspired art. Ms. Grant is a Los Angeles-based professional artist who through an exploration of the use of text and language in various media probes ideas of translation, identity, dis/location, and social responsibility. She had a show at the Orange County Museum of Art and as part of the exhibit, the museum released a film that explored her work and her philanthropy.
 
“Watching the video made me wonder if it would be possible to have a virtual visiting artist,” visual arts department chair Jesse Standlea said. “Could we find a meaningful way for students to participate in a project with Alexandra, in a fun way centered around the simple message of love? The answer was yes.”

In 2D art, teacher Philip Griswold encouraged students to use the message of love into a piece using any medium they would like: collage, mixed media, acrylic painting or oil painting, for example. The pieces were put together in an excellent mural that was impressive on its own—yet Mr. Griswold had one more idea to enhance it even more.

“I introduced the Adobe Aero program to advanced art student Mari Edler, and asked her to create an augmented-reality piece to connect to the mural,” Mr. Griswold said. “She did a great job.”

In photography, teacher Amanda Albanese created a “Love Box” collaborative piece based on Ms. Grant’s work that, according to Ms. Albanese, “built a community of students to solve a real life creative problem together.”

Students worked together in the hallway of the Gateway building to divide and connect roles on the box. Using a rotation system and having multiple projects occurring simultaneously in the shared space compelled students to come together to make decisions and ensure everyone's voice was heard.

Elsewhere:
 
  • Film students animated a love-themed logo using either Procreate or After Effects, creating looping animation using the natural timing of breathing to create a meditative piece.
  • Ceramics students created pieces that embraced the simple message of love.
  • Lower School art teacher Mary Mayer-Grubb led a grade 5 paper collage mural project tied into their American Revolution unit.

Besides being a professional artist who explores the use of text and language in various visual art forms, Ms. Grant is also the founder of grantLOVE, an artist-owned and operated project that produces and sells original artworks and editions to benefit artists and arts non-profits.

St. Margaret’s visual arts department has had several artists-in-residence in the past, including Ken Takashi Horii in 2019 and Jesse Colin Jackson in 2018.

Though Ms. Grant couldn’t be in-person at St. Margaret’s, Mr. Standlea said he was thrilled with how the projects went.

“We collaborated remotely to create an art activity that was inspiring and uplifting,” Mr. Standlea said. “Alexandra’s positive energy and creativity in thought and action really made this a meaningful experience for our students.”
 
 
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St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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