Students get creative, using tree limbs and cardboard for art

By Kaitlyn Jackson

The OCCC Visual Art Department is continuing to allow students to be creative this spring while staying safe, Jeremy Fineman, program chairman and professor of art said.

“We have explored a range of materials, everything from tin foil, to clay, to the tree limbs,” he said.

Students are working on a project that uses broken tree limbs from the previous winter storms last October to create a sculpture, Fineman said.

The project requires the students to use volume and implied volume through the manipulation of tree branches. It can be found in the former Arts Festival area on campus, he said.

Fineman said he has had help in locating the tree branches from the college’s Facilities Management department.

The project is a creative outlet that started during the fall semester and allows students to participate in a group project on campus but still stay safe during the pandemic. Students can work on the project on their own time, and it is an ongoing project on campus, OCCC student Evangeline Noah said.

The broken tree limb project is not the only project Fineman is having his students work on. Students in Fineman’s Foundations 2 class are working on a free-standing cardboard sculpture that uses different techniques to push and tear cardboard to create multiple structures and levels, Noah said.

Noah said she has never worked with cardboard as a medium before but, despite some challenges, she found the project to be her favorite this year.

Despite the challenge of COVID-19, art students at OCCC are finding ways to engage with other art students through outdoor activities.

“We have painting on campus and are going to be working outside as much as we can,” Fineman said.

This semester Fineman has also had to show strong creativity in moving some of his art classes online.

Fineman said he never would have thought that having an art class online would be possible prior to COVID, but he is now finding that the time the class has spent online has given them some advantages.

Students have forums where they engage in each other’s work, ask questions, and give tips on what they are working on. There is a lot of communication between Fineman and students, Noah said.

“I can’t wait for our students to get back on campus and be able to make work on campus, but I have also started to embrace the online environment,” Fineman said.

“I hope for the future we can migrate the online world in person and, if we can meld those two together, it would give a lot of accessibility for students who may not be located in Oklahoma or in the United States,” he said.

Fineman has been teaching at OCCC for over five years and is Chairman of the program. The students are his favorite thing at OCCC, he said.

“Professor Fineman helps students explore their creativity,” Noah said.

Spreading passion and enthusiasm to budding artists inspired Professor Fineman to become an art teacher, Fineman said.

He teaches several classes in art including a Valuable Material Special Topics class which explores different materials and their ability to be malleable. Students have worked with a wide variety of materials and used carving to manipulate things they thought were permanent, he said.

Other classes include Ceramics, 3D Design, Art History, and Figure Drawing, Fineman said.

“There is so much creative freedom to be able to explore your creativity and explore your skills as an artist,” Noah said. “I realized it was the free creative space for me and I could express my emotions and my feelings because of my art.”

“Professor Fineman is hands down the best professor I have ever had,” she said.

The Visual Arts Program is open to anyone and everyone whether they want to go into the art profession or take the class as an elective, Fineman said. 

A variety of students come from programs all across campus to take courses in the program.