A heART for art education

As finals approach, art students at the University of Central Oklahoma are compiling their work from the last 14 weeks to share with those around them and add to their portfolios.

Hannah Randell, senior art education student, collected her final pottery creations on Wednesday after they were fired in the kiln by her professor, Eric Hoefer. While Randell  will not formally display them, she did share them with friends and family as she reflected on her semester in ceramics class. 

Randell was born to be an artist. Her father, sculptor Joel Randell, trained her in a few different mediums — an art term referring to what the piece is made with — and growing up in a creative environment gave her an avenue of expression. 

Hannah Randell, senior art education student, with her parents in September 2019 standing in front of one of her father’s sculptures in Walker, Minnesota. (Provided/Hannah Randell)

“Growing up with a parent as an artist was always really cool,” Randell said. “It seemed normal to me as a kid, but as I got older I realized how that’s a pretty uncommon job for a parent to have.”

Randell has traveled around the country with her parents as her father debuted his work at public dedications.

“It was just inspiring to see how he built his career, and how he went from hardly having any sculptures to now having a ton of them and being able to make a full-fledged career out of it.” she said.

She developed a love for painting and when the time came to consider a career path, Randell wanted something that would allow her to continue painting and introduce her to different forms of art, as well.

Randell started her journey at the University of Central Oklahoma as a graphic design major. 

While in the graphic design program, she created a few commission pieces, one of which can be seen at Revive Church in Edmond off Danforth Road. 

“My dad had a base logo, and I just modified it. I made it more modern,” Randell said about the Revive Church sign.

Randell in the ceramics room of the Art Building at UCO. She picked up her final pieces on Wednesday, which included a persian-inspired coil pot and five wheel-thrown bowls. (Gretchen Houk/The Vista)

There are many elements of graphic design that require a keen eye for detail and a willingness to dedicate hours to a single project.

“I made a bunch of mock ups and sent them over to my grandfather, who is the pastor of that church, and I allowed him to pick which ones he liked the most,” she added.

According to Randell, graphic design encourages critical thinking, and she said UCO’s program helped her in that area.

“It was extremely competitive,” Randell said. “They require you to really have reasoning behind every decision you make, so that was a wonderful thing. It taught me to think critically in my art.”

Graphic design students have many projects, and Randell said she was often up into the late hours of the night completing assignments. Because of this, she found herself making mistakes in an effort to complete her work.

Randell left the graphic design program during the first week of the fall semester of 2019, her junior year. 

Randell was assigned to find a thrift store painting and add details to make it her own. She chose a painting that featured flowers in a bowl, and added face and hair where a pot previously resided. This is another example of how Randell incorporates portraiture into her work. (Gretchen Houk/The Vista)

“Leaving the program was really a hard decision for me to make,” Randell said. “I didn’t want to quit because I had already made it so far in the program, and it just seemed like a waste of credit hours.”

With the support of her mother, Randell made the decision to meet with her advisor and become an art education student. Luckily, her credits from graphic design were not wasted, as she feared they would be. She was able to apply them toward a minor. 

She will graduate a semester late, but with a degree she is excited to put into practice— art education.

“The main thing I hope to get out of my career as an art educator is making a difference in the lives of the students,” Randell said. “I know that a lot of them have really sad home lives and they need someone to be nice to them and encourage them.”

Randell said she dreams of moving to Florida so that she can make frequent trips to Disney World when she is not teaching elementary art classes. 

“That’s the ultimate dream,” she said, adding, “I love art and I love kids so I really think it’s the perfect career for me.”

Three soda fired bowls, which Randell glazed after their initial firing. The soda firing causes the color variation in the glaze, which results in the vibrant blues and different brown tones. (Gretchen Houk/The Vista)

She is able to take a wider variety of classes now and is finishing up final projects for her classes: ceramics, art education methods, painting II, education assessment and teaching individuals with disabilities.

This spring, Randell rediscovered her love of painting and dedicated hours of her time in quarantine to painting portraits. 

“I honestly don’t know why I started painting. I think I’ve always just really enjoyed it. It’s always been something fun for me,” she said. 

The challenge of painting people is something that she enjoys and has dedicated time to exploring more in the past eight months.

“Painting portraits is my favorite thing to do in art,” Randell said. 

Her affinity for faces flows into other mediums, as well, and on her Persian inspired pot she made in ceramics class, she delicately painted a plump bird with a peaceful facial expression.

“I’ve always been drawn to trying to make things as realistic as I can, so just working on that is exciting for me as I see my progress,” she said.

She enjoys painting in her spare time and has a gallery in her room where she has hung some of her favorite paintings. She also has painted murals in her childhood home. In her brothers’ room she created a Star Wars inspired mural that spans the length of one wall and spreads onto another. 

Randell claims this self-portrait helped her define a personal style, and she shared it on her art Instagram page, @hannahrandellart. (Provided/Hannah Randell)

“My most recent painting that I did in my personal time, not for a class, was a self portrait of me and my dog, and I feel like that one turned out pretty good.”

“I’ve been trying to work on having a more obvious style, and I feel like I was kind of able to have my breakthrough with that.”

After her third semester as an art education major, Randell has seen an improvement in the enjoyment she gets from expressing herself artistically and looks forward to finishing her senior year next fall with a diverse portfolio.

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