The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Center for Arts and Education at West Liberty University, recently presented a special topics course designed to help West Liberty University elementary education majors learn to use art as a tool to integrate social justice, environmental, and health issues into their artwork and curriculum this spring. The course was also open to students majoring in art education, graphic design and interdisciplinary studies.

Sean Ritner works on his print.

Graphic Design major Sean Ritner works on his print

“Thanks to a grant from the Benedum Foundation, the Warhol presented activities adapted for the classroom from two of their existing youth programs: RUST (Radical Urban Silkscreening Team) and Power Up (a program that empowers young women to become advocates to their peers),” explained Tresa Varner, curator of education and interpretation at the Warhol. Students studied photographic silkscreen printing, graphic design and digital imaging and created projects that included posters, brochures, stickers and t-shirts.
“The processes involved thinking about and making art to help the students develop a variety of 21st-century skills, such as creative problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. The course also incorporated themes that resonate with youth culture, such as the environment and social justice,” said Lou Karas, director of the WLU Center for Arts and Education.
“The goal of this course was to encourage students to use their imaginations and creative resources as they learn Andy Warhol’s silkscreen techniques and newer printmaking processes. Through artmaking, they learn to communicate strong and personally expressive messages that can inspire positive changes in their peer groups, neighborhoods and communities.”
The course was open to West Liberty University rising seniors and May graduates and resulted in three graduate credits through the College of Education at no cost to the student, making it a very appealing learning experience.

“This class was a great way to learn the process of printmaking and demystify the screen printing technique. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from excellent artists and the Warhol Museum,” said Sean Ritner, a rising senior graphic design major who plans to relocate to Pittsburgh after graduation next May.
Other students who participated in the class included: Sherry Barr, Amanda Carney, Richard Clifford, Patricia Croft, Eva Eddy, Elyse Ellis, Kristen Koles, Rachel Shipley and Ronda Wilson.
The first class session was held at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh on May 17 and the remaining classes took place on the WLU campus on Fridays, May 24 and 31 and June 7, 14 and 21. Materials for the course were provided at no cost to the students.
Varner led the class with assistance from Karas and teaching artist Siena Baldi.Art education graduate Rachel Shipley listens to Warhol artist Tresa Varner.
“This was a tremendous opportunity for our students. I’m in awe of the Warhol and its activities and we hope to continue this type of collaboration in the future. Art allows education to view life through a different lens,” said Dr. Keely Camden, dean of the College of Education.
For more information on the Center for Arts & Education, please contact Karas, at [email protected]
To read media coverage of the class that appeared in the Herald-Star, Steubenville, Ohio, please click here.