2 new arts teachers


Photo credit: Ella Chang

Andrew Ruiz sits at his desk in the media space. He is one of the new art teachers this year and teaches film.

By Ella Chang, Staff Reporter

At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, two new arts teachers walked onto campus and joined the visual arts department in film and studio art.

Andrew Ruiz is a film teacher and visiting artist. He teaches classes at Archer, while also leading classes at independent studios. Ruiz started teaching when he was in graduate school at Columbia University, and this year marks his 10th year of teaching.

Outside of Archer, he works as a screenwriter and teaches grades eight-12 in various levels of film. In addition to his role teaching film classes, Ruiz facilitates the annual Archer Film Festival with the help of a student board.

In the past, Ruiz has primarily taught college-level arts. He said that his transition to Archer has been fantastic, and he enjoys the collaborative spirit and emphasis on community at Archer.

“I really like to see a student build their competence in art form over the course of the year or several years depending on how they approach the study,” Ruiz said. “It is really great when you see them start to take command of their artistic voice, and they kind of gel together, and you see their confidence come out in their work. Watching that progression is really rewarding from a teacher standpoint.”

Additionally, Talya Petrillo’s first time teaching in a school setting has been taking on the role of Visual Arts teacher. She teaches the Introduction to Studio Art course, Digital Arts for seventh graders and Visual Arts for eighth graders. Prior to working at Archer, Petrillo worked as an instructor at the South Los Angeles Exceptional Children’s Foundation Art Center, where she was a facilitator to support adult artists with various cognitive and physical disabilities.

“My life has improved dramatically since being an art teacher,” Petrillo said. “Since being here at Archer, I feel like I have found something so good, and I love teaching here.”

Petrillo said Visual Arts Department Chair Marya Alford and ceramics teacher Olivia Moon have helped guide her through her transition to Archer.

“When I went to Ms. Petrillo’s first lesson, I mainly observed how she engaged with students — I pretended to be a student,” Moon said. “She managed the whole lesson from beginning to end because not many students come to our classes knowing the medium already.”

Petrillo said that it is easy to be self-conscious when making art and that there are established ideas of what good art looks like; however, she said that she encourages students to find their own voice through art.

“There is so much more room, not just for error, but to appreciate error that exists in art, versus other academic classes, and so that step can be very uncomfortable, especially for our students because they are so determined to do everything right,” Petrillo said. “So when they see themselves doing this thing that they perceive as as incorrect, and then shying away from it, but then pulling into it and running with it and finding voice through it is what I keep seeing happen.”

Although Ruiz and Petrillo do not teach the same medium, the two teachers feel the same way about joining Archer.

“I think that Mr. Ruiz and I settled in pretty well,” Petrillo said. “I think that it is because of the art teachers who are here already like Ms. Alford, Ms. Kremin and Ms. Moon.”