By Melissa Mitchell While critics of the Internet complain that the medium should be regulated to prevent children from being exposed to pictures of questionable content, high school art teacher Karen Hellyer is exposing her students to the positive side of digital-image transmission. For well over a year, Hellyer's students at the UI Laboratory High School - Uni High, as it's more commonly known - have been exhibiting their drawings, paintings, photographs and other forms of original art in an electronic gallery called ArtSpace. Anyone with access to the Internet's World Wide Web can visit ArtSpace, which Hellyer said was the first high school art gallery on the Net. She designed the on-line gallery with the hope that it would stimulate a cross-fertilization of ideas that would extend not only to students, but to art educators worldwide. "I wanted to have a place where people could access examples of student work, and where students could exhibit work in a non-threatening environment," Hellyer said. Student work included in the gallery is accompanied by class assignments. That educational component meshes well with Uni's mission, Hellyer said, because "part of the job at a lab school is distributing curriculum information to the world." On-line galleries are just one way art students and educators are learning to use network technologies to exchange ideas and support educational goals, said the art teacher, who recently demonstrated the benefits to peers at the National Art Education Association's convention in Houston. For example, teachers can tap into networks to download software and images for classroom use or learn to design independent-study experiences using Hypertext Markup Language, or HTML, format used to create Web documents. The potential for artistic collaboration is limited only by the imagination. Hellyer's students proved her point recently when they created works based on the ideas of Stephan Shrem, a New York artist, musician, songwriter and poet who creates three-dimensional sculptures called "Shremagraphs," which he exhibits online. "The kids found the site on the Web, and I seized the moment and said, 'Hey, this would be a great project,' "Hellyer said. After studying Shrem's on-line images, the students made sketches, then created their own Shremagraphs. Next, the students' work will be photographed, scanned and forwarded electronically to the artist for his perusal. Hellyer, who contacted Shrem at the outset of the project to gauge his interest, said, "He thought it was cool." Beyond the hipness and the hype, however, there is nothing particularly extraordinary about artists' desire to master the electronic media, Hellyer said. "Artists always have taken advantage of technology. When acrylic paint was developed, that was a breakthrough from using oil or tempera. It's your job as an artist to find out what your medium can do best that no other medium can do." ArtSpace's Web address is http://www.uni.uiuc.edu/uniartspace.html. For more art-education resources, go to: http://www.uni.uiuc.edu/departments/finearts/art/docfiles/handpix.html.