May 11, 2005
Most of Remy Gierke’s art pieces evolve from sketchbook to sculpture to showcase. And it was a summer program in Gilbert that helped the 17-year-old student evolve as an artist himself.
Gierke enrolled in the Gilbert Summer Art Academy as a second-grader and has spent every hot summer since creating in cool classrooms, said academy director Faye Koerselman.
Koerselman, who teaches art at Gilbert High School, said Gierke showed up to the academy with sketchbook in hand that first summer, already accomplished at drawing.
Gierke said the Gilbert academy exposed him to techniques and equipment beyond pencil and paper.
"When I was younger, I was a lot more into drawing and 2-D stuff because I just didn’t have the opportunities to work with 3-D," he added.
By fifth grade, art academy students are given the option of working with a potter’s wheel to throw pots. Koerselman said Gierke took every clay class he could at the art academy.
"He’d bring his lunch and just work all day," she said.
Summers of honing his skills mean Gierke’s art experience goes well beyond that of a typical sophomore in high school — he already has his own style as an artist, Koerselman said. Gierke skipped Clay I and Clay II courses at Gilbert High School, going straight to Clay III.
He also won first place in sculpture in the school district art show last year as a freshman, something Koerselman describes as phenomenal. The prize-winning sculpture is a life-size clay bust colored with a reddish stain, which was also displayed at the Schemer Art Center in Scottsdale.
Koerselman said fasttracked advancement in art classes is common to her academy students. Those enrolled in the classes each June gain early experience with equipment such as the potter’s wheel, something many Gilbert students don’t get until high school.
"There are a number of our junior highs that don’t even have clay," she said.
This will be Koerselman’s 14th summer of running the academy, which now serves about 175 students, from firstgraders through adults, each summer. Koerselman said she began the program to give students early experience in arts they might not otherwise have opportunities in.
For Gierke, his experiences at the academy have led him to consider art as a career. But for now, he knows he’ll again spend his summer there. He’ll work as an instructor’s assistant to some of the academy’s jewelry classes for teens and adults.
"I enjoy helping people, especially if they’ll really internalize what I’m telling them," he said.
And, of course, Gierke plans to continue working on his own pieces.
"There is a certain sense of accomplishment after you’ve made something and people tell you they like it," he added.