CORVALLIS - This summer, about 75 of the most creative and artistic teenage students in Oregon and throughout the region will visit the Oregon State University campus for three works to immerse themselves in advanced classes and workshops featuring art, music and theater.
It is an experience that is becoming all too rare in the state, as budget cutbacks have slashed opportunities for the arts in many K-12 districts.
Ten years ago, the OSU Department of Art stepped in to help fill the void with a program called Jumpstart, which offers students from ages 15-18 accelerated learning in a university environment. Now regarded as one of the premier pre-college programs for the arts in the Northwest, Jumpstart attracts talented teenagers from all over the West Coast. The program's focus, though, is on Oregon students.
"There is an unfortunate decline in opportunities for young students today in Oregon high schools," said John Maul, an associate professor of art at OSU and director of the Jumpstart program. "I wish we could take 10 times as many students, because the need is there. And the quality of students we have coming into the program each year is just astounding."
Maul said some of the teens that have gone through the OSU program are now receiving scholarships to top universities and private arts colleges - and many are using their Jumpstart portfolios to secure acceptance and even financial aid.
This year, the OSU program will expand to encompass performing arts as well as visual arts. That means students who are accepted into Jumpstart will have an opportunity to gain exposure to theater, as well as painting, drawing, graphic design, photography, video, printmaking, experimental music, and sculpture.
Maul said he also is working to integrate different forms of art, hoping to foster an interdisciplinary artistic environment.
"I learned from my own experience that you can really look at your own efforts in a new way by experiencing other forms of expression," Maul said. "It is like relearning English by taking a second language. All of the terms and principles have to be re-examined and then the light clicks on. 'Oh that's what it means to conjugate a verb.'
"We think we can do the same thing with the arts," he added. "And it is something we're exploring in the College of Liberal Arts at the university level."
Jumpstart students spend three weeks at OSU in early summer, attending workshops with faculty members from OSU and other institutions. The program also brings in professional artists and performers from a variety of areas, so the teenagers can watch them perform, ask them questions, and receive further instruction.
The program costs $1,695 for housing, tuition, meals and all the supplies. Students who provide their own housing and meals pay $995. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for lower-income students - an area Maul would like to address.
"In a perfect world, money would not be an issue," Maul said. "We would like to open the door to as many different students as possible. Some of the most creative students who have come through our program were at the lowest end of the economic scale."
A 1977 graduate of OSU, Maul is an accomplished sculptor. He will have a solo exhibition of cast aluminum and encaustic sculpture at Butters Gallery, Ltd., in Portland this March.
More information on the Jumpstart program is available by calling 541-737-5013, or visiting the web at: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/arts/jumpstart/program.html.