Feb 2023 - Art Department
Since its inception in 1920, Grossmont High School’s staff and its community viewed art as an essential part of its curriculum. The floor plans for the 1922 “Castle” reveal a classroom, labeled “Art Department”, in a prominent location; the 1922 yearbook names Luella M. Hughes as its Music and Art teacher.
In 1949, the school celebrated the construction of a Home and Arts building, which for the next 67 years, became the home of art and photography classes. Today’s 2016 Art building houses classrooms beyond the imagination of those early teachers with spacious rooms and modern equipment that stimulate the students’ creativity.
2-D and AP Studio Art
Art teacher and department chairman, Susan Phillips, shares, “The new building has been a game changer, as it shows a tangible respect for the Arts. Because the students are in a clean modern environment, they are more engaged and take pride in their work and keeping the studio clean.”
“I teach 2-D beginning through A.P. Studio Art, focusing on various forms of drawing, painting and printmaking. During a recent project, Reinventing Da Vinci, we studied Renaissance drawings; then, the students were required to create an original artwork that combines an image from Da Vinci's artwork with one or more of his inventions or science studies. The style of the artwork should invoke the feeling of a Renaissance drawing.”
“Our students show work throughout the community in such venues as Foothills Art Gallery, Studio C Gallery in El Cajon, Annual District Show, the San Diego County Fair as well as the SDMA Young Art show.
“Currently their work is on display at both the Foothills Gallery and the main branch of the La Mesa Library through the end of January. The Studio C Gallery show will be starting towards the end of February.”
3D Design and Advanced 3D Design
Art teacher Gwenne Pagarigan shares, “I teach 4 periods of Beginning 3D Design and 1 period of Advanced 3D Design. There are 180 students from all grade levels in 3D Design.”
“In 3D Design we learn and understand the principles of art, and explore our identity as artists and people using art from other cultures and time periods as a basis for our exploration. We do this using a variety of mediums including paper, ceramics, and metal. We hand-build and wheel throw with clay, and students learn to paint and glaze their work.
“This year students have collaborated to build sculptures, developed coil designs and forms, and experienced wheel throwing with clay. Students have made surface designs with colored pencils, paint and glaze.
“A recent activity was creation of paper hats, a project influenced by our trip to the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park. One of the exhibits was an artist called "moses", an artist best known for his whimsical and sculptural paper bag hats and head pieces from different times and cultures. The students were challenged to research and create a paper hat in the style of moses.
“Another activity was the creation of a metal tapestry, a short collaborative project inspired by the work of El Anatsui, a world famous Ghanaian artist. Students experimented with the folding, crumpling, and crushing aluminum cans and then created the individual pieces that were combined into the tapestry.”
“We participate in the District Art Show and display our work in the District Office. You can follow our Artistic journey on Instagram at foothiller_3D_design”
Photography and Digital Art
Teacher Carolyn Jungman shares, “I teach in both the Visual Arts Department and the CTE AME Pathway (Arts, Media, & Entertainment). In Visual Arts, I teach Beginning & Intermediate Photography, as well as AP 2D Design with a Photography emphasis. I also teach Beginning Digital Arts & Advanced Digital Arts. Our 3-year CTE AME pathway focuses on the digital media industries. Students in this pathway take Photography 1/2, Digital Arts 3/4, then Digital Arts 5/6.
“My photography classes learn everything from camera settings to digital editing in programs like Photoshop alongside composition, history of photography, and different styles of photography. We have in-class photoshoots almost weekly, photographing everything from dry ice to light sabers and creating special effects like levitation and ghosting in Photoshop.
“My digital arts classes create artwork using digital programs like Photoshop & Illustrator. The students create logos, design t-shirts and stickers, and learn how to bring their designs to life using methods like screen printing, sublimation, and traditional printing. Simply put, we make cool stuff!
“The goal of the AME Pathway (in addition to the photography & digital arts content) is to introduce and empower students with industry-standard technical skills and real-world experiences so they're prepared to enter a creative college program or career. Those students receive additional soft-skill training & access to our network of industry advisors to build connections, giving them a strong foundation of knowledge.
“We have many shows and competitions coming up this semester, including the La Mesa Library in the month of January, the GUHSD District Art Show at Parkway Plaza in May, and the San Diego County Fair Student Showcase in June/July. I encourage my students to put their artwork on display and outside the walls of our classrooms for the world to see!
“Our students love getting feedback on their work - feel free to follow us on Instagram at @ghsphotoda.”
A Class of 2010 GHS alumnus, Carolyn has a unique perspective on the Art Department. “My first year teaching was in the old 1949 art building, which was a unique experience as those classrooms were the same rooms I had been a student in. The old photography classroom was fitted for a film photography program, but we'd transitioned to digital photography.
“I enjoyed working in the darkroom as a student in the old building; I'm working to bring it back to my current program using the facilities in the new building. My second year teaching, we moved to the new building. For photography, I have a beautiful iMac lab with space for class photoshoots and our digital arts program. I do have a small print lab for film photography that I'm working to get functional for my advanced level students.
“It's been fun teaching in both spaces and combining my memories of GHS as a student with my experiences here as a teacher - especially as our campus evolves and grows!”
102 years ago, Grossmont High School incorporated art as an essential part of its students’ learning. While the details of the creation process may have altered some of the forms in which students express their emotions and experiences, the value of art to the student’s quality of life was as indisputable then as it is now.
For information about Foothiller history and the GHS Museum, email Connie and Lynn at