RPS 205 students learn to love, excel in art at Roosevelt

Students come into Brian Hierstein’s classroom looking for an elective credit. A lot of them leave as artists.

Hierstein teaches Art 1 at Roosevelt Alternative High School. Between his students and the students of Kyle Wolfe, who teaches graphics, Roosevelt has about 30 pieces of art on display at the RPS 205 All-City Art Exhibit, which opened Jan. 14 at four locations.

One of Hierstein’s students was Andre Quattlebaum, who had a stencil work in this year’s exhibit. The stencil, which is based on an image of late rapper Notorious BIG, was a breakthrough piece for the student. “He kind of caught fire after that,” Hierstein said.

The point of the project was to look at positive and negative space and figure out how to break it down into darks and lights. The final step – doing the background – is where most students just want to finish. But Andre took extra time adding color. He then used a netting material to achieve a jewelized background.

When he was done with the piece, he asked one thing of his teacher, Hierstein recalled: “You’re going to display it?” Hierstein has artwork of former students in his room; Andre wanted to be among the chosen.

Hierstein not only hung up the work, he submitted it in group of a dozen or so pieces for the art exhibit.

About 90 percent of Roosevelt students sign up for art just looking for an elective credit, Hierstein said. Most end up taking at least one more art class in their time at Roosevelt. The students’ connection with their art is clear in the school’s evocative pieces at the All-City Art Exhibit.

The exhibit of Rockford Public Schools high school student artwork continues through Jan. 23 at the following locations:

Octane – 124 N. Main St.

Kortman Gallery – 107 N. Main St.

Ascension Art Studio – 323 W. Jefferson St.

CNVR/Conveyer – 317 W. Jefferson St.

For viewing hours, see the RPS 205 art calendar.

Mary Kaull is communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.