Fullmer coordinates art court installation through Measure S

Sand blasters, new kilns and more to be available

As the 2020-21 school year approaches, so does the availability of new equipment and new learning opportunities for ceramics students at OPHS with the addition of an art court, an outdoor space dedicated to students working in art programs.

Six years ago, ceramics teacher Ian Fullmer presented the idea of the installation of an art court on the campus to the Measure R (centered around a half-cent sales tax increase) committee, having already written out a proposal that set monetary estimates for the project. He was then given a budget based on the building needs and what equipment would be used, as well as tools to accompany the equipment. 

“We’re chipping away through a lot of [the budget], and we just ordered a bunch of other equipment … I have to find three quotes for every machine for everything that I’ve done, from three different companies that either sell it or build it, and then I have to submit it to the board,” Fullmer said. 

After that, the board must approve each purchase. Currently, Fullmer is in the final phase of purchases. The site resides on the left side of his classroom, close to the front entrance of the school. 

“I’ve promised this for a long time, but now these things are finally coming into play, they’re finally showing up,” Fullmer said. 

Director of Bond Programs, Sustainability, Maintenance and Operations in Oak Park Unified School District, Brendan Callahan, gave information about the progress of the project. After many years of work, Callahan and Fullmer now see an end to the project in the near future.

“[The project] has stayed on budget, and it should be ready for next school year,” Callahan said.

New improvements will come with the completion of the project. For instance, currently, the ceramics class works with electric kilns to heat and bake their creations at about 1900 degrees Fahrenheit. In the coming years, students will be able to work with high-fire kilns, which are larger and run on gas, and can heat up to roughly 2,500 degrees. With these, the effects on the clay would be different, achieving a more “professional” effect.

Beyond that, Fullmer hopes to be able to work with glass, though at first, expects to start with small advancements in learning. Eventually, he hopes to create things much more interesting and advanced than what can be created with what is currently available on the OPHS school campus. 

“There are so many things that we will be able to do as the program starts to evolve and the program starts to develop,” Fullmer said. “Next year, when it’s here, [there] will be a lot of experimentation. It isn’t going to be perfect.”

Students have started looking forward to this new addition and the new opportunities it will bring to the art program.

“It’s really cool that Mr. Fullmer is working on [improving] this. I do like being outside better and there will be lots of new machines to create awesome works [of art],” 3D Design student and freshman Sydnie Lowry wrote to the Talon.

Though the recent COVID-19 outbreak has left many to stay inside their homes, the process has slowed very little and the school is doing its best to get everything ready for the upcoming school year, according to Fullmer.