Junior Jenny Lee attended Ryman Arts, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California dedicated to helping high school art students, this year and last year at no cost. In the program, Lee worked with professional artists in a variety of free weekend classes at Otis College of Art and Design and California State University, Fullerton.
“My experience [of] stepping into my Foundational Drawing class was very eye-opening,” Lee said. “This was my first time being in a serious art class surrounded by artists with the same passion for art as me.”
Ryman Arts provides experiences outside of the classroom: field trips to art museums, workshops at Art Center, tours at art studios, and scholarships. For Lee, she enjoyed hearing guest speakers provide anecdotes and advice to those considering a career in art, like herself.
“My favorite part of the program was when an art professor from Cal State Long Beach came in one day to give us an inspiring speech about his life growing up in rural China and traveling the world to study art,” Lee said. “This speech made me realize that cultural and economic barriers can’t stop me from pursuing [art] and doing it well.”
Lee believes the classes provided at Ryman Arts are better than the ones provided at public schools because classes are smaller, typically with 12 to 14 students. This allows for more one-on-one time and a different classroom environment.
“Students learn about advanced techniques used in art and apply their skills through paintings and drawings—they are then critiqued by their classmates and teachers,” Lee said. “Everyone critiqued each other’s drawings thoroughly and honestly, something I have never [had] in a regular high school art class.”
However, Lee found that the classes demanded more time and commitment outside of school than expected, but she learned new things in the process.
“In the beginning of the program, I was overwhelmed by the workload,” Lee said. “I found myself waking up at 5 a.m. the morning of class rushing to finish my art. [Ryman Arts] instilled a new work ethic in me. I learned how to manage my time between art and school.”
Although the application process is rigorous, Lee recommends Ryman Arts to anyone who is passionate about art.
“For those interested in this program, I advice that you practice drawing and painting consistently,” Lee said. “The energy every time I walked into the open classroom was uplifting and something I’ve never experienced before.”