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Internet an artistic tool

December 05, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Nine Penn State Mont Alto students who are taking an art course through the anonymity of the Internet had to face a bunch of elementary school kids Thursday and lecture on what they've learned about art on their computers.

The Penn State students used Notre Dame Cathedral and its timeless artwork as the basis for their lesson to third-, fourth- and sixth-graders at St. Andrew School in Waynesboro.

The college students used a large computer screen to portray images to the youngsters.

One in particular, a gargoyle atop the cathedral, grabbed the fourth-graders' attention.

"That's Victor," they said, referring to a character in the Disney cartoon movie, "Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Discussions between the Penn State students and the Catholic school kids covered the world of traditional art in painting, sculpture and architecture. The elementary students learned the meaning of such terms as the focal point of an artwork, texture, medium and high and low relief. They talked about Michelangelo and Frank LLoyd Wright and the relationship between art and architecture.

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Nancy Funk, a Penn State Mont Alto art teacher, set up the course on the Internet for nontraditional students. Funk created a home page that outlines the course, gives assignments and lists Internet addresses where the material can be found.

Funk and her nine students communicate through e-mail.

"We don't see each other," she said.

Among the Penn State students making presentations Thursday were Lauri Davis, 31, of Fort Loudon, Pa., and Denton Smith, 23, of Hustontown, Pa.

Davis, a single mother juggling two jobs and college, is majoring in human development and family studies. She said she gets dual benefits from Funk's art course.

"I'm learning about art at the same time that I'm learning how to use computers and the Internet. This fits my life," Davis said.

Smith, a part-time truck driver and a full-time student, is studying graphic design. He said he likes the computer imagery in Funk's course.

On Tuesday, Funk will bring two of her students to the Victor Cullen Academy in Sabillasville, Md., to study the works on minority artists through the Internet.

Both presentations are part of a community service project that Funk requires in her course.

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