Interview With Award Winner
Oil on canvas
Wellsville Central School
When did you first discover your creative talents?
I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. It was so much a part of my upbringing that I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t drawing and painting.
My father was an artist and taught college art in Philadelphia where I spent the early part of my life and then at the NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred where I got my M.S. in Art Ed... My two sisters are also artists and we were encouraged from the beginning.
As an artist who has been your biggest influence?
Certainly my family has been very influential and my husband Brian is also an artist. We share many ideas and although we don’t directly work with one another, we are each other’s best critics.
How would you describe your style?
My style lies somewhere between realism and abstraction. I make realistic studies from observation and then combine that knowledge with my imagination. Color and form are very important to me and I hope that my paintings will move others. I feel powerful when I paint because I am creating my own world.
What persuaded you to be an art teacher?
I love to teach and see it as an art form. As an art teacher, every year you have the opportunity to adjust the way you do things hoping that you will engage more minds in the process. No two years are ever the same and what can be more exciting than a classroom of young people ready to discover what my favorite subject is all about? I think about why things work and how students learn. I naturally analyze why I do things the way I do and see connections between all kinds of things in the world. When I told my roommate in art school that I thought I wanted to teach art, she said, “you already do.” I also paid a lot of attention to my art teachers in high school, thinking about what worked in their teaching and what didn’t and have tried to make use of those observations over the years.
As an artist and art teacher why do you feel art is an important part of a student’s curriculum?
Art was the only thing that I excelled at in school. It would have been a dismal place for me if there had been no art class. Every year I have a few students who are like that. Some of these kids didn’t come from an artistic family and may have never discovered that they had a visual gift were it not for art class.
Many students tell me that art class for them has been a haven where they can lose themselves in something creative. Through exposure to art history all students discover that there have always been artists since the earliest humans and learn about different cultures and times directly through art made by those people. Art is an international and timeless language that can be understood and can change the way you see things.
The most important reason for art class to me is to help students learn how to create something on their own. So much of what kids do today is pre-made and pre-packaged. Often when you begin to make something it does not look good and you are not sure if it is going to work. It is only through determination, experimentation and faith in the process that it eventually looks “good” or “complete”. So many kids don’t realize this; they think it should look finished right from the beginning. They get frustrated way too early and give up before they are really started. I expend a lot of energy reassuring and encouraging them to enjoy the mess they are making and keep at it until that mess becomes the thing they aspire to make. It can be magical and is of utmost importance as it is analogous to creating a good life.